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Manning hearing begins

world Updated: Dec 17, 2011 00:06 IST

Not long after allegedly passing a massive trove of US government secrets to WikiLeaks, Army Pfc Bradley Manning told an acquaintance on an Internet chat that he just wanted “people to see the truth,” to prompt “worldwide discussion, debates and reforms” over war and foreign policy.

Instead, Adrian Lamo, a convicted hacker, contacted authorities with suspicions that Manning had committed one of the largest national security breaches in US history.

These exchanges between Lamo and Manning could be among key evidence in a pretrial hearing starting Friday at the Military District of Washington courtroom at Fort Meade. Investigators also have forensic evidence from computers used by Manning and data from the WikiLeaks website.

Manning, who turns 24 Saturday, has been accused of aiding the enemy, violating the Espionage Act and several lesser charges, enough to send him away for life.

Aiding the enemy carries a potential death sentence, but Army officials have said they will not seek it.

Prosecutors are also likely to have chat logs between Manning and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks co-founder, said a former official familiar with the investigation, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

In exclusive partnership with The Washington Post.