Wikileaks – Bradley Manning calls for a new judge
A hearing for Bradley Manning, the Army private suspected of being behind the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. history, began Friday morning but almost immediately went into recess after Manning’s attorney asked the investigating officer to recuse himself.
Attorney David Coombs said Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, the presiding officer, should step down. Among Coombs four objections was that Almanza, an Army reservist, had a conflict of interest with his civilian job with the Justice Department, which is investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Coombs objected to Almanza’s job as a prosecutor for the Justice Department because Manning could be called as a witness in the federal case against Julian Assange.
The United States accuses Manning, who turned 24 on Saturday, of violating military code, ranging from theft of records to aiding the enemy. Manning’s Article 32 hearing, the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing that will determine whether enough evidence exists to merit a court-martial, was expected to last a week but could be delayed if Almanza recuses himself.
Coombs, also a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserves, has a reputation for creative military lawyering, his contemporaries told CNN. He is also an active blogger. He’s been posting about the Manning case, including his client’s alleged mistreatment at Quantico, since taking the case in 2010.
An attorney for the Bradley Manning Support Network says the group has paid about $150,000 in expenses toward Manning’s defense, money raised mostly in small donated increments online.