Suspected of being the source for WikiLeaks' massive document release of military and State Department files, Manning is being held at a military jail in Quantico, Va., outside of Washington, D.C. Manning's court-martial is slated to go ahead in June.
The prosecution maintains that Manning turned over to Wikileaks hundreds of thousands of battlefield reports related to U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as State Department diplomatic cables while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010. His defense team sought to get the charges against the 25-year-old Manning dropped, but military judge Col. Denise Lind denied their motion.
Military law requires arraignments within 120 days of a defendant getting charged. That was not the case with Manning, who was locked up for 635 days before his February 2012 arraignment. But Lind said that while the case was "complex and unprecedented," she concluded that prosecutors had fulfilled their duty to bring Manning's case to trial. She said that only 90 days could be counted against the 120-day limit since the remaining delays were reasonable.
"There's no evidence that the delay was intended to gain a tactical advantage over the accused or that the prosecution could have gone to trial earlier but negligently or spitefully failed to do so," she said.On Thursday, Lind will consider an allowing him to plead guilty to lesser charges on 10 of the 22 counts that he faces. Those still would mount up to 20 years in prison.
Manning's case has been unusual in a number of ways. At one point, he was forced to strip naked in the evening and then was required to stand at attention for the morning roll call still without any clothes on. That bizarre ritual led State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley to describe Manning's treatment as ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid. (Crowley subsequently resigned his post.)