Manning finally has day in court as prosecutors detail ‘crimes’

US Army private accused of sending secrets to WikiLeaks turns fire on judge as trial begins

Under fierce security and with scant room in the courtroom for reporters or the public, the preliminary hearing into the case against Bradley Manning, the army private accused of stealing secrets and giving them to WikiLeaks, began with a defence demand that the chief investigating officer withdraw himself.

The intervention by Private Manning's civilian lawyer, David Coombs, threatened briefly to halt the hearings even before they started. He asserted that the chief investigating officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Paul Almanza – the judge, in civilian parlance – brings bias to the case because of his long history as a prosecutor for the US Department of Justice, which is conducting a separate investigation into WikiLeaks' founder, Julian Assange. The request was dismissed, however.

The hearing is Pte Manning's first appearance since his arrest 19 months ago. He sat in army fatigues in a courtroom inside Fort Meade, a military complex north of Washington that is also home to the National Security Agency. All 23 counts against him were set out by the prosecutor, among them the suggestion that he knowingly gave "intelligence to the enemy through indirect means".

If the hearing concludes as scheduled next week, Lt-Col Almanza will have only days to release his findings. It will then fall to Major-General Michael Linnington, commander of the Military District of Washington, to decide on the next steps. His options will include ordering a full court martial, dismissing some or all of the charges, or imposing administrative punishment without any trial.

"You have been at the Department of Justice since 2002, by your own admission you have prosecuted 20 cases," Mr Coombs told Lt-Col Almanza, saying he had a conflict interest because of that department's probe into Mr Assange. "If the Department of Justice got their way, they would get a plea in this case, and get my client to be named as one of the witnesses to go after Julian Assange and WikiLeaks."

While Pte Manning faces a possible sentence of life behind bars if he is found guilty of the most serious charges at a court martial, to his supporters he remains a hero. A few managed to find spots in the cramped public gallery yesterday but were instantly warned by the court not to interrupt the proceedings or face ejection. A rally by Manning supporters is expected today – the hearings are set to continue through the weekend – and the numbers who show up are likely to be boosted by groups of Occupy Wall Street protesters planning to travel by bus to the camp from New York and Washington.

Pte Manning, who is half Welsh, is accused of downloading thousands of classified documents on to CDs, which he labelled as Lady Gaga songs, while serving as a junior intelligence analyst in Baghdad. The US Army says he then passed the information on to Mr Assange, whom he described to an online chat partner as this "crazy white-haired dude". Mr Assange used his site to publish them for all the world to see.

Mr Coombs is expected to base his defence partly on the contention that while the leaked information embarrassed the United States and some other politicians around the world, they actually did very little damage to American security.

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence