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Military court tells US to give records to WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning

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Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted from a military court Wednesday at the end of the first day of a three-day motion hearing in Fort Meade, Md.

Updated at 8 p.m. ET: FORT MEADE, Md. -- A military court Wednesday ordered the U.S. government to turn over secret documents about WikiLeaks suspect Pfc. Bradley Manning to his defense lawyers, NBC News reported.

The victory for Manning came on the opening day of a three-day pretrial hearing outside Washington where his lawyers were also seeking dismissal of 10 of the 22 counts against him.

The court judge, Col. Denise Lind, also said she would take into consideration a defense motion to delay Manning’s scheduled Sept. 21 trial due to the exhaustive search for government records.

"The court is certainly willing to entertain any good-cause motions for continuance," Lind said.

Agence France Presse news agency described Manning as frail-looking while seated between two members of his defense team when the hearing got under way after an hour-long closed door meeting between lawyers for both sides.

Manning, a 24-year-old Crescent, Okla., native, faces the possibility of life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge: aiding the enemy. He allegedly sent to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic cables and war logs downloaded from government computers while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in late 2009 and early 2010.

Motions filed by defense attorney David Coombs before the hearing said the U.S. government used "unconstitutionally vague" or "substantially overbroad" language in eight counts of their indictment, in which Manning is accused of "possession and disclosure of sensitive information."

For two other counts, in which Manning is accused of "having knowingly exceeded authorized access" to a secret Defense Department computer network, defense lawyers said the government failed to state an offense.

The defense team also asked the court to compel the government to produce material including investigation reports by the White House and House of Representatives.

One motion accused the government of responding "in its typical nonsensical, smoke-and-mirrors fashion."

NBC News reported that Lind ruled that the government must give Manning's defense team a redacted version of the Defense Intelligence Agency's WikiLeaks Damage Assessment Report. The team will receive the report "almost in its entirety," as only specific classified information shall be removed, NBC News reported.

Motions discussed Wednesday raised questions about the prosecution's operating procedure during the discovery process, a mandatory pre-trial information exchange of evidence, NBC News reported

In one of many examples that came to light, the government maintains a working index of the hundreds of thousands of documents examined during discovery, but it does not provide the defense counsel with any type of reference material when it turns over the files.

Coombs asked the court to stop the prosecution's so-called "hide the ball" tactics.

The government responded by criticizing Coombs' evidence requests as overly broad, accusing the defense of "fishing expeditions."

Coombs described his attempt to obtain documents emerging from an ongoing House Oversight investigation: "Short of telling the government that the documents are in a red file in [House Oversight Chairman] Darrell Issa's third drawer, beneath his Bible, you can't get much more specific than my request," Coombs said.

Lind, chastised the prosecution for its "circular arguments" and questioned its past judgment of discoverable evidence, warning, "If you see something that could be material to the preparation of the defense --  even if you don't have a request for that specific piece of evidence -- you disclose it."

The court reviewed damage assessments from the State Department, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA before proceedings began Wednesday, in order to determine what information should be turned over to the defense and what information should be removed in the interests of national security.

Manning's defense team was given a slightly redacted version of the State Department's investigation on Tuesday evening, the Guardian newspaper of London reported.

NBC's Ellie Hall and The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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