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Lawyer: Manning's Hearing Set in WikiLeaks Case (Nov 21, 2011)

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Army intelligence analyst suspected of illegally passing government secrets to the WikiLeaks website will have a military hearing next month in Maryland to determine whether he will stand trial, his lawyer and an Army spokeswoman said Monday.

Pfc. Bradley Manning's Article 32 hearing will begin Dec. 16 at Fort Meade near Baltimore and last about five days, civilian defense attorney David E. Coombs wrote in a blog post. Shaunteh Kelly, a spokeswoman for the Army's Military District of Washington, confirmed the date and venue.

An Article 32 hearing is the military equivalent of a preliminary hearing in civilian court. A presiding officer will evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the government's 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 said the hearing will be open to the public, except for limited periods for discussion of classified information.

Manning is in pretrial confinement at Fort Leavenworth prison in Kansas. He faces 34 counts of military law violations, including aiding the enemy. That charge can bring the death penalty or life in prison. Prosecutors have said they won't recommend the death penalty to the two-star general who will decide whether to proceed with legal action.

Manning, a native of Crescent, Okla., is suspected of obtaining hundreds of thousands of classified and sensitive documents while serving in Iraq and providing them to the anti-secrecy website.

He was arrested in May 2010 after telling an online confidant, who later turned him in to authorities, that he had sent classified information to WikiLeaks.

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