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Associated Press
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is escorted into a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., on Wednesday before the pretrial military hearing.

Bin Laden raid member can be WikiLeaks witness

FORT MEADE, Md. – A military judge cleared the way Wednesday for a member of the team that raided Osama bin Laden’s compound to testify in the trial of an Army private charged in a massive leak of U.S. secrets.

Col. Denise Lind ruled for the prosecution during a pretrial hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning at Fort Meade, near Baltimore.

The government said the witness, presumably a Navy SEAL, collected digital evidence showing that an associate of bin Laden provided the al-Qaida leader with documents Manning has acknowledged sending to the WikiLeaks website.

Defense attorneys argued that proof of receipt isn’t relevant to whether Manning aided the enemy.

The judge disagreed. She said the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that intelligence was both given to and received by the enemy.

The hearing, scheduled through Friday, focuses on multiple questions about the evidence the government must produce at trial to prove its charges.

Manning pleaded guilty in February to lesser versions of some of the 22 charges he faces. Prosecutors have said they still intend to prove him guilty of the original charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum life sentence.

His court-martial is scheduled to start June 3 at Fort Meade.

The 25-year-old native of Crescent, Okla., is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of Iraq and Afghanistan battlefield reports, State Department diplomatic cables, other classified records and two battlefield video clips to WikiLeaks in 2009 and 2010 while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad.

In a statement he read aloud in court Feb. 28, Manning said he sent the material to the anti-secrecy website to expose the American military’s “bloodlust” and disregard for human life in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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