U.S. Government Rests Its Case in WikiLeaks Court Martial

Prosecutors called more than 80 witnesses to testify in the court martial of Bradley Manning.


U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning is escorted as he leaves a military court on June 3, 2013, at Fort Meade in Maryland.

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After hearing testimony from more than 80 witnesses, federal prosecutors wrapped up their case Tuesday in the trial of former Army private Bradley Manning.

The 25-year-old former Army intelligence analyst is charged with more than 20 offenses, including a violation of the Espionage Act and aiding the enemy. If convicted of the latter, Manning could face a possible life sentence.

[READ: Bradley Manning Prosecutors Claim Bin Laden Link]

As the government ended its case, prosecutors dropped a charge that Manning's leaks aided a "classified" enemy. Prosecutors originally accused him of aiding the enemy on three counts: al-Qaida, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and a "classified enemy."

According to Courthouse News Service, a military spokesperson said the concept does not mean the enemy is classified, but that a known enemy was in possession of classified information. "What 'is' classified is that our government has confirmed that this enemy is in receipt of certain compromised classified information, and that the means and methods of collection that the government has employed to make that determination are classified," the spokesperson said in an email to Courthouse News Service.

But Maj. Ashden Fein said Tuesday that the government would drop the charge.

Manning has already entered a guilty plea to lesser charges that carry a prison sentence of 20 years, according to The Washington Post.

The court martial began a month ago, with prosecutors arguing that they had evidence that Manning gave classified information to senior al-Qaida officials by way of the website WikiLeaks.

[ALSO: Witnesses Paint Manning as Loner]

Manning has acknowledged that while he was working in Baghdad from November 2009 to May 2010, he uploaded more than 700,000 files to WikiLeaks, including State Department cables, Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, battlefield video clips and profiles of Guantanamo detainees. Manning said he revealed the war logs in order to document "the true costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan," including the deaths of two Reuters employees killed in a U.S. helicopter attack.

Prosecutors argued that Manning used military computers to download the information and transferred some of the documents to his personal computer, and that he was repeatedly told in training to not give classified information to unauthorized individuals, according to The Associated Press.

They also argued that the evidence showed that al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden may have seen some of the material WikiLeaks published.

"By the grace of God, the enemy's interests are today spread all over the place," Adam Gadahn, a spokesman for the terrorist group, said in a 2011 al-Qaida propaganda video, according to the AP. The video referenced the information on WikiLeaks.

[BROWSE: Political Cartoons on WikiLeaks]

Some of the court proceedings were conducted in closed session because the material being presented was classified. Before the trial began, officials had estimated that nearly 30 percent of the proceedings would be in closed session.

The defense will start its case on Monday. Defense attorney David Coombs has expressed his intention to call nearly 50 witnesses, and to present reports showing that Manning's leaks caused minimal impact to U.S. security.

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