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Accused Wikileaks Informant's Hearing Starts Dec. 16

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The lawyer for Pfc. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst suspected of illegally passing government secrets to the WikiLeaks website says his client will have a military hearing next month in Maryland to determine whether he will stand trial. 

An Army spokesperson has confirmed that Manning's Article 32 hearing will begin Dec. 16 at Fort Meade near Baltimore and last about five days. Manning is being represented by civilian lawyer David Coombs, who first posted about the hearing on the Bradley Manning Support Network blog. 

The hearing is the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing in civilian court. A presiding officer will evaluate the strength of the case against the 23-year-old soldier and make a recommendation on which, if any, charges should be forwarded to a general court-martial.

Coombs says the hearing will be open to the public, except for limited periods for discussion of classified information.

Manning, a native of Crescent, Okla., is suspected of obtaining hundreds of thousands of classified documents while serving in Iraq and providing them to Wikileaks. He faces 22 counts, including aiding the enemy, a charge that can bring life in prison or the death penalty. Prosecutors have said they will not pursue the death penalty. 

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