Cyber specialist to testify at U.S. soldier's WikiLeaks trial

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 01, 2013 7:01 AM
Cyber specialist to testify at U.S. soldier's WikiLeaks trial

By Ian Simpson

FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - The court-martial of a soldier charged with using the WikiLeaks website for the biggest leak of classified information in U.S. history heads into a second day on Tuesday, with a cyber crime investigator the day's lead-off witness.

At the start of the trial on Monday, military prosecutors said Private First Class Bradley Manning, 25, had been driven by arrogance to leak more than 700,000 documents, combat videos and other data to the anti-secrecy website, hurting U.S. interests.

But defense attorney David Coombs portrayed Manning, a former intelligence analyst in Iraq, as naive but well intentioned in wanting to show the U.S. public the reality of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Manning case has pitted U.S. civil liberties groups that want more transparency about military and diplomatic affairs against the government, which accuses Manning of endangering lives and souring sensitive diplomacy by leaking classified information.

Special Agent David Shaver from the Army Computer Crimes Investigation Unit, an expert on cyber crime, will be the first witness called on Tuesday, prosecutors told the judge, Colonel Denise Lind.

Shaver is among 141 government witnesses in the trial, which is scheduled to run until late August at the earliest. The defense has listed 46 witnesses.

Manning, a former intelligence analyst, could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted. He faces 21 charges, including the most serious one of aiding the enemy, and prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917.

He has been in confinement since he was arrested in May 2010 at Forward Operating Base Hammer east of Baghdad.

Testimony began after opening statements on Monday, with investigators detailing the seizure of two Army computers used by Manning as well as his personal computer, along with hard drives and other material.

WikiLeaks began exposing the secrets in 2010, stunning diplomats and U.S. officials who said the leaks endangered lives.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange denies the allegations.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and Lisa Shumaker)