Patrick Semansky / AP
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, right, is escorted into a courthouse at Fort Meade, Md., Thursday, July 18, 2013.
FORT MEADE, Md. — The military judge hearing the court-martial of the U.S. soldier accused of the biggest leak of classified material in the nation's history refused Thursday to dismiss the most severe charge the defendant faced -- aiding the enemy.
That is just one of the 21 counts that U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning faces but it carries the possibility of life in prison.
"He was knowingly providing intelligence to the enemy," said Judge Col. Denise Lind, in rejecting Manning's lawyer's motion to dismiss that charge.
Lind said that military intelligence analysts such as Manning were trained to assume that anything posted on the internet could be accessed by the enemy.
Manning, 25, is charged with sharing more than 700,000 classified files, combat videos and State Department cables with the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks while serving as a low-level intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010.
Defense lawyer David Coombs earlier this week had argued that Manning was guilty of negligence but not the "general evil intent" standard required to justify the heavy charge.
Coombs also argued that the government was overreaching by charging his client with stealing information from a government database.
"The government is trying to say that the word database encapsulates everything under the sun," Coombs said. "Words matter."
Over the course of the trial, defense lawyers have sought to show that the slightly built Manning was naive but well-intentioned in seeking to inform Americans about the reality of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The trial will also hear from prosecution witnesses in a rebuttal phase following the close of the defense phase last week.Copyright 2013 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.