WikiLeaks case likened to Civil War espionage

DAVID DISHNEAU Associated Press Published:

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) -- The defense says military prosecutors are drawing comparisons between an Army private's alleged leak of classified documents to Civil War-era cases involving coded messages in newspapers.

The argument emerged Tuesday during a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade for Pfc. Bradley Manning. The hearing continues Wednesday.

The issue is whether Manning's motive is relevant to a charge he aided the enemy by sending reams of classified documents to the secret-sharing website WikiLeaks. The government contends Manning knew, or should have known, that the information would be seen by al-Qaida.

Defense attorney David Coombs said Tuesday that prosecutors are citing Civil War-era cases concerning soldiers who placed coded messages in newspaper ads.

Coombs says Manning's alleged offenses are more akin to providing government documents to a newspaper.