Politico on January 11, 2012 released the following:
“By JOSH GERSTEIN
The U.S. military’s highest appeals court has rejected a petition by WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange to give their lawyers guaranteed access to the Army’s legal proceedings against the Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking thousands of military reports and diplomatic cables, Pfc. Bradley Manning.
WikiLeaks and Assange argued they deserved a permanent seat at the recent investigative hearing in Manning’s case because of an ongoing criminal investigation targeting Assange and his global transparency website. They also made the unusual request to have a lawyer with security clearance sit on classified sessions the public is excluded from.
However, in an order Wednesday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces denied the petition without comment. The only further review would be at the U.S. Supreme Court.
The WikiLeaks/Assange plea was previously rejected by the officer overseeing Manning’s hearing and by an intermediate appeals court, the Army Court of Criminal Appeals. Military prosecutors said there was no basis for according special status just because Assange might be charged in the future. In addition, they noted that in practice the lawyers for Assange and his outfit had been able to gain access to general public seating in the courtroom at Fort Meade, Md.
Manning’s weeklong preliminary hearing, known as an Article 32 session, wrapped up last month, so it could be that the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces considered the issue moot. However, the court didn’t say the petition was denied as moot. In any event, the same issues could arise again if, as expected, Manning’s case is sent to a full, formal court martial.
“We are disappointed by the ruling, but like much of the Manning proceedings themselves, this decision is inscrutable,” said Baher Azmy of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which brough the petition for Assange and WikiLeaks. “The court offers no analysis whatsoever for its ruling, so as much as we strongly disagree with the judgment, we literally cannot understand — or respond to — the reason(s) apparently underlying it.””
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