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Manning seeks dismissal of key charge

FORT MEADE, Md. — Defense lawyers for Private First Class Bradley Manning asked a military judge on Monday to acquit him of the most serious charge he faces, that of aiding the enemy by providing classified information to WikiLeaks, as they began to present their witnesses at his court-martial.

Manning’s lead lawyer, David Coombs, filed four motions asking the judge, Colonel Denise Lind, to find him not guilty of many of the charges on the grounds that prosecutors had failed to prove them in their five-week presentation of the case.

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She did not immediately rule on the matter, and she asked for a response from the government by Thursday.

Early in the day, the defense showed the now-familiar video footage from a helicopter gunship in Iraq as it fired on people on the ground who turned out to include two Reuters journalists, who were killed.

The news agency unsuccessfully sought access to video and other records of the shooting until Manning provided it to WikiLeaks, which edited it and posted it on the Web under the title “Collateral Murder.”

The first defense witness, Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Ehresman, who worked with Manning in Iraq, described relatively relaxed computer security rules that permitted soldiers to download classified information onto CDs, in part because their regular computers crashed on a regular basis.

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