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Court-martial of alleged security leaker opens

BY DAVID DISHNEAU

AND PAULINE JELINEK

The Associated PressFORT MEADE, Md. -- Pfc. Bradley Manning put U.S. military secrets into the hands of Osama bin Laden himself, prosecutors asserted yesterday as the Army intelligence analyst went on trial over the biggest leak of classified material in American history.

Manning's lawyers countered by arguing that he was a "young, naive but good-intentioned" soldier who thought he could make the world a better place by turning over hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Manning, 25, has admitted giving the material to WikiLeaks and pleaded guilty earlier this year to charges that could mean 20 years behind bars. But the military pressed ahead with a court-martial on more serious charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.

Prosecutors said they will present evidence that bin Laden requested and obtained from another al-Qaida member Afghanistan battlefield reports and State Department cables published by WikiLeaks.

Manning's defense attorney, David Coombs, during his 25-minute opening statement, said Manning struggled to do the right thing as "a humanist," a word engraved on his custom-made dog tags.

As an analyst in Baghdad, Manning had access to hundreds of millions of documents.

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