US Army Private Bradley Manning will go on trial on February 4 of next year over charges he “aided the enemy” by passing a trove of classified documents to WikiLeaks, a judge said Thursday.
The proceedings are scheduled to last until March 15, said Colonel Denise Lind during a pre-trial hearing at the Fort Meade military base in Maryland.
Manning, 24, who could be jailed for life over the WikiLeaks allegations — the biggest security leak in American history — is likely to break his silence in the case at another pre-trial hearing set for November 27, the court heard.
The soldier was arrested in May 2010 while serving as an intelligence analyst near Baghdad and subsequently charged over the alleged leaks, which caused huge embarrassment in Washington and also rankled key US allies.
Manning has since been held in confinement at American military jails in Kuwait and the United States.
It is in relation to his custody at a US Marine base at Quantico, in Virginia, that Manning has been named as a defense witness at the November 27 hearing.
The soldier’s defense lawyers contend that their client was mistreated at Quantico, where he was held in maximum security conditions from July 2010 to April 2011 before being transferred to a prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.
Judge Lind, concluding the three-day hearing, ruled Thursday that an unauthorized video that Manning uploaded to YouTube in 2008 and documents relating to his subsequent punishment, can be submitted as evidence at trial.
However, the prosecution will have to prove that the video, in which Manning used banned military buzzwords such as “classified” and “top secret” is relevant to the case, Lind said.
Manning’s defense argued unsuccessfully that the video and details of the disciplinary action taken in 2008 should not be put before a jury as such evidence could substantially prejudice the soldier’s right to a fair trial.
Pre-trial hearings for the case will resume at Fort Meade on October 17.