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Military judge refuses to drop 10 counts against Bradley Manning in WikiLeaks case

Patrick Semansky / AP

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, right, is escorted from a security vehicle outside a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., for a pre-trial hearing.

FORT MEADE, Md. -- A U.S. military judge on Friday refused a defense request to dismiss 10 of 22 counts against Pfc. Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.

Manning's defense attorneys argued that the government used unconstitutionally vague language when charging him with eight counts of unauthorized possession and dissemination of the classified information.

The judge, Col. Denise Lind, found that the language was neither unconstitutionally vague nor substantially over-broad, denying the defense motion to dismiss.

The court's second finding was not quite as cut and dry against the defense. Manning's attorneys contend the two counts that he exceeded both his authorization and usage of the military intranet system is also vague and should be dismissed.

While Lind denied the motion to dismiss the charges, she agreed with a previous ruling in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that calls for a very narrow reading of a statute that applies to the charge. She raised the burden of proof for the government when it eventually prosecutes Manning on this charge at his trial.

Lind told the government that it will have to present strong evidence that Manning exceeded his authorized access in order to prove this charge in his trial. Since this is still a pre-trial hearing, the government prosecutors can still dismiss the charges themselves, or even alter them, before the trial ever begins.

The judge also announced that the defense requested additional time before Manning's trial begins, and the prosecution did not object. So, while the trial was likely to be in late September and early October, the judge now says to expect it to begin in either November or in January.  Pre-trial motions set for the end of June, end of July and end of August will all stay as scheduled though, Lind said.

David House, friend and supporter of Bradley Manning, the army PFC who was accused of leaking confidential information to Wikileaks, talks with MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan about new evidence which shows that the leaked information in question did not, in fact, have any negative effect on national security.

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 classified diplomatic cables and war logs downloaded from government computers while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in late 2009 and early 2010.

Lind’s rulings came in the third day of a three-day pre-trial hearing. Manning’s lawyers were seeking  government damage-assessment reports to prepare their defense. They also were seeking to have 10 of the 22 counts against Manning dismissed.

Earlier: Bradley Manning lawyers quiz State Department officials about WikiLeaks fallout

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