The trial in the case against US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning has begun, three years after he was first arrested for providing classified US government information to Wikileaks. Manning's aunt who lives nearby and a cousin are attending the proceedings, sitting just behind the defendant at Fort Meade Army Base outside Washington DC.
Manning has admitted sending hundreds of thousands of reports, diplomatic cables, and videos to WikiLeaks from a classified government computer system while he was stationed in Iraq.
Prosecutor US Army Captain Joe Morrow laid out in detail how the government will present their case that Manning had to know that downloading and sending it to Wikileaks would harm US national security. Morrow said this is "a case about when arrogance meets access to sensitive information".
Morrow went through the timeline of events from when Manning arrived in Iraq until he was arrested. They will present evidence that Manning sent a classified video of a deadly airstrikes in the war in Afghanistan to Jason Katz, a Department of Energy employee in December 2009 who wasn't entitled to have that information. But Manning has said he didn't start releasing classified information until January 2010.
The prosecutor said they will present computer forensic evidence which shows Manning worked with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to try to figure out how to anonymously access the classified database. Morrow said after the accused downloaded and sent the information, he tried to hide what he'd done because he knew it was illegal.
But Manning's lead defence attorney, David Coombs, said his client's intentions were altruistic. In his opening statement, he said Manning "was hoping to make the world a better place". But he wasn't working for WikiLeaks. That claim was disputed by the government in its opening statement. Morrow said "Manning used his training to gain the notoriety he craved."
Coombs ended his opening statement by saying Manning was "Young, naïve, but good intentioned."
After a lunch recess, three prosecution witnesses are expected to testify – two investigators and Manning's former roommate from when he was living in Iraq.