FORT MEADE, MARYLAND — The defense rested its case on Wednesday in the court martial of U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning, who is accused of passing secrets to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.
Manning, 25, who is charged with leaking more than 700,000 classified files, combat videos and State Department cables to WikiLeaks, told Judge Colonel Denise Lind that he did not want to testify on his own behalf.
Manning, who allegedly gave secrets to WikiLeaks while serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010, could face life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge - aiding the enemy.
Defense lawyers had read a statement into the record and elicited testimony from nine witnesses, after initially saying they planned to call 46 witnesses.
Lind, who is both overseeing the case and will hand down a decision, set Monday to hear prosecution arguments. She has not set a date to announce a decision.
Before ending its case on Wednesday, the defense called its final witness, a Harvard Law School professor who testified that WikiLeaks and its model of decentralized leaking of secrets is a high point in journalism history.
WikiLeaks is “a clear distinct component of what in the history of journalism we see as high points, where journalists are able to come in and say, 'Here's a system operating in a way that is obscure to the public and now we're able to shine the light,”' said professor Yochai Benkler, the co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society.
WikiLeaks provided the materials in 2010 to traditional news outlets that included The New York Times, Britain's Guardian and Germany's Der Spiegel. The publications were able to vet the material and provide greater distribution for it, Benkler said.
The 21 charges against Manning include espionage, computer fraud and, most seriously, aiding the enemy by disclosing material that could be used by the al-Qaida terrorist network.
The prosecution rested last week after five weeks of testimony, some in closed session. The trial is scheduled to end by August 23.