The US Army private accused in the WikiLeaks case pleaded not guilty to aiding the enemy at a military hearing on Thursday on what was the biggest leak of government secrets in US history.
Private First Class Bradley Manning was expected to take the witness stand before military judge Colonel Denise Lind in the hearing prior to his court martial, set to begin June 3.
He pleaded not guilty to the most serious charge, aiding the enemy, through his attorney. He faced a total of 22 charges after being accused of slipping classified material to the WikiLeaks website.
Manning, who has been jailed for more than 1,000 days, could face life imprisonment if convicted of that top charge. Manning had previously offered to plead guilty to various lesser charges in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, including the unauthorized possession and willful distribution of information accessed in the Combined Information Data Networks, a military database, for both Iraq and Afghanistan.
The 25-year-old Army intelligence officer was prepared to take the witness stand to read aloud from a 35-page statement defending himself in the espionage case, but only after Lind rules on how much of it he will be allowed to read.