US: Gay solider Bradley Manning’s legal team to focus on delays at hearing

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A gay US Army private charged with sending US secrets to WikiLeaks is attending a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday and contends that lengthy delays have violated his right to a speedy trial.

Private First Class Bradley Manning is seeking dismissal of all charges as he returns to Maryland’s Fort Meade to resume proceedings.

It’s been two years and eight months since the solider was detained in Iraq.

He is accused of sending hundreds of thousands of classified war logs and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

Defence attorney David Coombs says the commander of the Military District of Washington rubber-stamped all prosecution requests to delay Manning’s arraignment.

He says the delays made a mockery of a requirement that an accused be arraigned within 120 days.

Last week, Army Colonel Denise Lind ruled that Manning was illegally punished while in military custody at a base in Virgina after his arrest in 2010.

As a result she automatically knocked-off 112 days of a potential jail sentence – if Manning is convicted of the charges.

Manning has previously claimed that he was bullied for being gay during his time in the US Army.

In May 2011, human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell described Manning as a “gay hero” and a “human rights defender”.

The former intelligence analyst faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy. If convicted, he could be jailed for life.