US Wants to Close Manning's Trial to Public

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, center, is escorted to a security vehicle outside of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, after attending a pretrial hearing. Manning is charged with aiding the enemy.

FORT MEADE, Maryland - Lawyers for the U.S. soldier accused of aiding the enemy by leaking thousands of classified documents raised no objection Tuesday to a government proposal to temporarily close his trial to the public and press, possibly as early as this week, to protect evidence.

As Bradley Manning's trial entered its fourth week, defense attorney David Coombs told the military judge he had no objection to closing the courtroom while prosecutors read aloud the classified sections of written witness statements.

Prosecutors have said they expect to present as many as 17 such statements this week. The statements may include evidence about more than 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables Manning is accused of stealing from a classified computer database.

Manning denies the theft charge but has acknowledged he sent the cables, along with hundreds of thousands of classified war logs and some Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield videos, to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks. The former intelligence analyst has said he leaked the material to expose wrongdoing by U.S. service members and diplomats.

The trial is to determine whether Manning is guilty of espionage, theft, computer fraud and aiding the enemy, which carries a possible life sentence.


Associated Press writer David Dishneau contributed.

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