Army Says WikiLeaks Suspect Fit To Stand Trial
WASHINGTON (AP) — The intelligence analyst suspected of illegally passing government secrets to the WikiLeaks website has been found competent to stand trial, the Army said Friday.
Army spokesman Gary Tallman says a panel of experts completed its medical and mental evaluation of Pfc. Bradley Manning on April 22, and informed Army officials Friday of the conclusion.
Tallman says no date has been set yet for the initial court hearing, and added that the evaluation board’s findings “have no bearing on the guilt, innocence, or any potential defenses of the accused.”
Manning’s case is under the jurisdiction of the Army’s Military District of Washington.
The Army private is suspected of obtaining hundreds of thousands of classified and sensitive documents while serving in Iraq and providing them to the website. He faces about two dozen charges, including aiding the enemy. That charge can bring the death penalty or life in prison.
Manning was transferred from a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., last week to a new facility at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas.
He passed the lengthy physical and psychiatric evaluation given to new inmates there and received final clearance Thursday to live alongside other inmates, according to the facility’s commander Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton.
He had been held at Quantico for the eight months after his arrest, and the conditions of his incarceration triggered protests and international inquiries.
At Quantico, Manning had to surrender his clothes at night and was required to wear a military-issued, suicide-prevention smock. Manning’s attorney and supporters said that was unnecessary and argued his living conditions, including his isolation from other inmates, were inhumane.
Pentagon officials consistently said he was being held under appropriate conditions given the seriousness of the charges against him.
But they acknowledged that Quantico was not designed to hold pre-trial detainees for long periods of time.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)