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July 2, 2013

Prosecution rests in Manning's WikiLeaks trial

(Continued)

FORT MEADE, Md. —

As they wrapped up their case, prosecutors offered that al-Qaida leaders reveled in WikiLeaks' publication of classified U.S. documents, urging members to study them before devising ways to attack the United States.

"By the grace of God the enemy's interests are today spread all over the place," Adam Gadahn, a spokesman for the terrorist group, said in a 2011 al-Qaida propaganda video. The video specifically referred to material available on the WikiLeaks website.

The government also presented evidence that bin Laden asked for and received from an associate the Afghanistan battlefield reports WikiLeaks published. The evidence was a written statement, agreed to by the defense, that the material was found on digital media seized in the May 2011 raid on bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. Bin Laden was killed in the raid.

Prosecutors struggled to prove Manning collaborated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange or looked to the website for guidance — assertions meant to show that he leaked the material with evil intent.

Manning's intent is a key issue, said Philip Cave, a retired Navy lawyer in private practice in Alexandria, Va.

"I think it was pretty clear that WikiLeaks would have released anything and everything," he said. "Just because he did it that way, is that evidence of intent to share it with the enemy?"

Manning faces eight espionage counts and a computer fraud charge, all alleging he either exceeded his authorized access to classified information or had unauthorized possession of national defense material. His top-secret clearance enabled him to look at many kinds of classified information, but an information assurance officer, Capt. Thomas Cherepko, testified that "having the ability to go there doesn't mean you have the need or authority to go there."

Manning is also charged with five counts of theft, each alleging he stole a something of value worth more than $1,000.

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