CRIME

Bradley Manning hearing continues Saturday, prosecution to lay out charges

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Justice Department investigates Assange

Protesters flooded the area around Fort Meade in support of Bradley Manning. (Photo: Mike Conneen)

The Justice Department has a separate criminal investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. A U.S. grand jury is weighing whether to indict Assange on espionage charges, even as he is in Britain fighting a Swedish request that he be extradited because of rape allegations.

Manning's hearing at this Army post outside Washington is open to the public, with limited seating. No civilian recording equipment is allowed. Instead of a judge, a presiding officer delivers a recommendation as to whether prosecutors have enough evidence to bring a suspect to trial. A military commander then makes the final decision.

Coombs said Friday he'd ask the Army Court of Criminal Appeals to recuse Almanza from the case. It was unclear when the court would decide on hearing the appeal.

Protesters support Manning

The case has spawned an international support network of people who believe the U.S. government has gone too far in seeking to punish Manning, and a few dozen showed up outside Fort Meade on Friday to rally on his behalf.

"I plan to march all night tonight and bring as much attention as I can to put the entire country on notice that we have a hero who's standing trial for nothing more than telling the truth," said Dan Choi, a gay West Point graduate discharged from the military for revealing his sexual orientation. He wore a bright orange "Bradley Manning Support Network" sticker on the lapel of his uniform jacket.

Others were less supportive.

"That man did something very wrong," said Mandie Stanley, a 19-year-old who lives on the Army post with her husband, a member of the Air Force. She spotted the protesters and decided to come out with a sign that said: "Don't leak classified information, stupid!"

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