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WikiLeaks soldier's request to dismiss case rejected

Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) is escorted in handcuffs as he leaves the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland June 6, 2012. REUT
Army Private First Class Bradley Manning (C) is escorted in handcuffs as he leaves the courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland June 6, 2012. REUT

By Medina Roshan

FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - A defense request to dismiss the case against Army Private First Class Bradley Manning in the mass disclosure of military and diplomatic secrets by WikiLeaks was denied by a U.S. military judge on Tuesday.

Manning's lawyers filed a motion to dismiss all charges against him, arguing the government had violated their client's right to a speedy trial.

Ruling at a pretrial hearing on Tuesday, military judge Colonel Denise Lind said that the case took only 90 days to come to trial, well within the 120 day "clock" rule that exists for a court martial, in reference to the time between pretrial confinement and arraignment.

Lind also said that Article 10 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Sixth Amendment, both of which deal with speedy trial rights, were not violated.

Manning, 25, is accused of releasing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including U.S. diplomatic cables and various military reports. He faces 22 charges including aiding the enemy, which carries a penalty of life in prison.

U.S. government secrets exposed by WikiLeaks beginning in 2010 staggered diplomats across the globe and outraged U.S. officials, who said damage to national security from the leaks endangered U.S. lives.

At this week's pre-trial hearing, Manning was slated to enter a plea to the charges on Thursday, Lind said.

Rejecting the motion to dismiss, Lind said there have been several legitimate reasons for delay in the case, including the processing of security clearances, mental health evaluations for the defendant, the sorting of classified information and subsequent coordination with relevant government agencies regarding that information.

"This is a complex case including voluminous classified information," Lind said.

The court martial is expected to begin on June 3.

Manning, who has already been jailed for more than 1,000 days, would have any eventual sentence reduced by 112 days to compensate for the markedly harsh treatment he received during confinement at Quantico Marine Base, under a ruling last month by Lind. While at Quantico, Manning was placed in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day with guards checking on him every few minutes.

Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010 and charged with downloading thousands of intelligence documents, diplomatic cables and combat videos while with the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade intelligence operation in Iraq.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since June to avoid extradition to Sweden for alleged sex crimes.

(Reporting by Medina Roshan; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Phil Berlowitz and Steve Orlofsky)

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