Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., June 28 after the start of the fourth week of his court-martial. (Jose Luis Magana / AP)
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FORT MEADE, MD. — Al-Qaida leaders reveled in WikiLeaks’ publication of reams of classified U.S. documents, urging members to study them before devising ways to attack the United States, according to evidence presented by the prosecution Monday in the court-martial of an Army private who leaked the material.
“By the grace of God the enemy’s interests are today spread all over the place,” Adam Gadahn, an American member of the terrorist group, said in a 2011 al-Qaida propaganda video. The video specifically referred to material published by WikiLeaks, according to a written description of the propaganda piece submitted at the trial of Pfc. Bradley Manning. The evidence, which both sides agreed was factual, was read into record by lead prosecutor Maj. Ashden Fein.
Prosecutors also submitted excerpts from the winter 2010 issue of al-Qaida’s online magazine “Inspire,” which said “anything useful from WikiLeaks is useful for archiving.”
The government presented another uncontested written statement that former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden asked for and received from an associate the Afghanistan battlefield reports that WikiLeaks published. The material was found on digital media seized in the May 2011 raid on bin Laden’s compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, Fein said. Bin Laden was killed in the raid.
The evidence came as prosecutors neared the end of their case in Manning’s court-martial on charges he aided the enemy by sending hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks while working an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.
The prosecution’s final witness, a Defense Intelligence Agency counterintelligence official, was called to testify, but the court went into closed session to hear classified information from him. Then the trial recessed for the day and was scheduled to come back Tuesday.
He was the government’s 28th live witness in the trial that began June 3. The government also has presented more than 50 written statements from witnesses.
Manning has said he leaked the war logs to expose the U.S. military’s disregard for human life. He also leaked more than 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables he said exposed secret deals and U.S. deceit in foreign affairs.
The 25-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., is charged with 21 offenses, including aiding the enemy, which carries a possible life sentence. To prove that charge, prosecutors must show that Manning, without proper authority, gave intelligence to WikiLeaks, knowing it would be published online and be seen by al-Qaida. Prosecutors also must show he did so with evil intent.
Manning told the military judge in February he leaked the material to document “the true costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” A video showing the deaths of two Reuters employees killed in a U.S. helicopter attack was part of the material he gave to WikiLeaks.
The military judge, Army Col. Denise Lind, allowed prosecutors on Monday to argue that Manning used a most wanted list compiled by WikiLeaks as a guide for leaking classified information.
The “Most Wanted Leaks of 2009” was admitted as evidence after Lind ruled the list is relevant to the government’s most serious charge of aiding the enemy.
Manning pleaded guilty to reduced charges on seven of eight espionage counts and two computer fraud counts. He also pleaded guilty to violating a military regulation prohibiting wrongful storage of classified information. The offenses he has admitted to carry a combined maximum prison term of 20 years.
Despite his pleas, prosecutors are seeking to convict him of the original charges.