- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The military judge who heard Army Pfc. Bradley Manning’s case is due to render a verdict Tuesday afternoon — and legal experts say the ruling will have a lasting impact on the fate of future information leaks. To watch, they say: Will the judge see the case as one of evil espionage or of more sympathetic whistleblowing?

Pfc. Manning faces 21 charges related to espionage, computer fraud, theft and aiding the enemy. It’s that last that could bring a life sentence.

Prosecutors have tried hard to paint Pfc. Manning as holding “general evil intent” with his admitted release of more than 470,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks detailing Iraq and Afghanistan battle plans and actions, The Associated Press reported.

Pfc. Manning also released about 250,000 diplomatic cables from the State Department and several video clips of various battlefields. He said he sent the information to WikiLeaks as a means of exposing U.S. war crimes — and military experts and legal analysts say how the judge rules will have a huge impact on how information leakers are treated in the future.

The judge’s ruling could also prevent other leakers from coming forward, experts say in the AP report.

A conviction of aiding the enemy “would essentially create a new way of aiding the enemy in a very indirect fashion, even an unintended fashion,” said Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. David J.R. Frakt, a visiting law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, AP reported.

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