Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, will appear for the first time in a military courtroom next month, roughly a year and a half after his arrest, according to Army officials.
The Army has scheduled a pretrial hearing for Manning, who faces more than two dozen charges related to his alleged leaking of classified material, for Dec. 16 at Fort Meade, according to the Military District of Washington, which has jurisdiction over the case.
The so-called Article 32 hearing is the military equivalent of a grand jury hearing, where a military judge will determine if there is sufficient evidence to proceed with a court-martial on charges that Manning endangered national security.
David Coombs, Manning’s attorney, said in a short post on his blog that the hearing was expected to last about five days.
Manning is currently being held at an Army facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He was moved there after advocates raised objections to his treatment at a Marine brig at Quantico.
The former intelligence analyst is accused of providing WikiLeaks with documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with an estimated 250,000 diplomatic cables. Charges against him include what the military terms “aiding the enemy,” as well as wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet and violating Army regulations on information security.
If convicted of all charges, Manning faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.
Manning’s supporters, including those at WikiLeaks, have campaigned aggressively on his behalf, asserting that he should be treated as a whistleblower, not a criminal suspect.