US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning faced life in prison as his trial began Monday,three years after he was charged with providing reams of highly-sensitive material to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks in the biggest leak of classified information in US history.
Since then,Manning has admitted to giving the material to Wikileaks and pleaded guilty to charges that would send him to prison for up to 20 years. The US military and the Obama administration werent satisfied,though,and pursued a charge of aiding the enemy,which carries a potential life sentence.
The trial on that most serious charge and 20 other offences started Monday for the 25-year-old former intelligence analyst from Oklahoma.
Its the most high-profile case for an administration that has come under criticism for its crackdown on leakers. The six prosecutions since Obama took office is more than in all other presidencies combined.
Capt. Joe Morrow,a prosecutor,said during his opening statement that Manning dumped classified documents on to the Internet and into enemy hands. This is a case of about what happens when arrogance meets access to sensitive information, Morrow said.
Mannings supporters hail him as a whistleblowing hero and political prisoner. Others say he is a traitor who endangered lives and national security.
Mannings defence will give its opening statement later Monday.