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Judge Raises Prosecutor’s Burden in Espionage Act Case

Apr 16th, 2013 Current Affairs, Inteligence

Col. Denise Lind ruled during a pre-trial hearing last week in the case against Bradley Manning that military prosecutors must prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that Manning had “reason to believe” the leaked secret government files could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign power, The New York Times reports.

Manning is charged with a violation of the Espionage Act, which prohibits relaying military information to an unauthorized party. Two clauses of the Espionage Act are relevant to the charges against Manning. The first covers documents and requires proof of willful disclosure. The second covers generic “information” and requires proof that Manning had reason to believe release of such “information” could cause harm to the United States.

Since the “government elected to charge the communications” under the latter provision, Col. Lind adopted the language requiring prosecutors to prove Manning had reason to believe the communications would result in harm. As paraphrased by Times correspondent Charlie Savage, a military legal spokesperson described the potential impact of the judge’s decision on Manning’s case as follows:

[T]he decision may make little difference because the judge previously ruled that Private Manning’s motive — whether he thought of himself as trying to help society — was irrelevant to whether he intentionally broke the law. The fact that many of the documents were classified, he said, was a reason for Private Manning to believe that their disclosure could cause harm.

 

You can read the full article here.

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