Bradley Manning the young gay soilder who was arrested for allegedly slipping government secrets to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010 finally after 18 months in captivity has gotten his first day in court.
Although Manning has become a hero to peace and anti-secrecy activists worldwide, the Obama administration says the released information has threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America’s relations with other governments. Manning’s lawyers have argued that much of the information that was classified by the Pentagon posed no risk.
One of the first issues to arise during this weeks testimony was whether Manning’s sexual orientation is relevant to the case against him. His attorneys maintained that his status as a homosexual in the military before the repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” contributed to mental and emotional problems that should have barred him from having access to sensitive material.
The defense also revealed that Manning had written to one of his supervisors in Baghdad before his arrest, saying he was suffering from gender-identity disorder. He included a picture of himself dressed as a woman and talked about how it was affecting his ability to do his job and even think clearly.
At the time the files were leaked, being openly gay was prohibited in the U.S. military under the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, a ban which was scrapped earlier this year.
Special Agent Toni Graham, with the Army Criminal Investigation Division of the Military Police, told the court she had found a folder with printed materials related to gender identity, but disregarded them as irrelevant to the leak investigation.
“We already knew that Pfc Manning was a homosexual. … We knew he was interested in those topics,” she said, adding that he also had a “very limited” number of friends.
Bradley’s case has spawned an international support network of people who believe the U.S. government has gone too far in seeking to punish him
Manning could face up to life in prision if found guilty.
Bradley Manning only turned 24 years old on Saturday