The prosecution’s closing arguments took place Thursday in the military court martial of 25-year-old U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning.
On behalf of the prosecution, Major Ashden Fein, in a three hour summation, portrayed the actions of the former analyst as treasonous.
Manning copied 700,000 documents from military computers and handed them off to WikiLeaks, a group Fein described as “a bunch of anti-government activists and anarchists,” for the sake of personal glory out of ego, and knowing the material he gave to the whistleblower website would be seen by representatives of the terrorist group Al Qaeda.
“The flag meant nothing to him,” said Fein according to the Washington Post. “He ultimately knew what he provided to WikiLeaks would make its way to the enemy because he knew the enemy used WikiLeaks.”
The intent behind this argument was to prove that Manning’s leak was somehow different from leaking information to a news organization (like Edward Snowden did to the Guardian, presumably). Instead, leaking to a website like WikiLeaks was tantamount to directly “aiding the enemy,” the heart of the capital crime Manning is alleged to have committed.
Manning had also tried to share this information with the New York Times and the Washington Post prior to eventually handing it over to WikiLeaks.
That charge, only one of 21 he faces, can carry the death penalty, though prosecutors have said they will seek life imprisonment instead. He has also pleaded guilty to several lesser charges, which will still see him facing a minimum of 20 years in jail.
“What is obvious,” said Fein “is that Pfc. Manning pulled as much information as possible to please Julian Assange in order to get that information released.”
More than that, Manning had actually joined the Army and gone to Iraq specifically to get and release this information, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“WikiLeaks was merely the platform that Pfc. Manning used to make sure all the information was available to the world, including the enemies of the United States,” said Fein. “Pfc. Manning deliberately disclosed compromised information to the world.”
The defense maintained that Manning released only information he thought important and was sure would not result in harm to soldiers because he felt the war had become something much uglier than it was being portrayed by those directing it.
As the New York Times noted, “Critics of the case have warned that a conviction on the aiding-the-enemy charge would establish the government’s theory on which it is based — that giving information to an organization that publishes it online is the same as giving it to an enemy — as precedent in leak cases.”