Bradley Manning To Take Witness Stand

Melissa Stusinski

Bradley Manning is expected to take the witness stand on Thursday in the trial where he is accused of slipping military and diplomatic secrets to WikiLeaks.

Private First Class Manning will take the stand to read aloud a 35-page statement defending himself in the espionage case.

Reuters reports that Manning has previously offered to plead guilty to various lesser charges in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

But he has refused to plead guilty to the most serious charge against him -- aiding the enemy. The charge is a violation of the federal Espionage Act.

Manning is expected to enter a formal plea soon to the 22 charges against him during a pre-trial hearing. The private has been in jail for more than 1,000 days and could face life in prison if he is convicted of the top charge.

A news release on Wednesday from the Bradley Manning Support Network also says that the accused intelligence officer "will speak to larger issues affecting his case." He is also expected to expand on his guilty plea and establish that he acted from a "noble motive."

NBC News notes that the group did not release the text of Manning's statement. They did, however, state that there was an exchange with prosecutors earlier in the week. They allegedly objected to Manning being allowed to read portions of his statement, including a passage in which the Army private talks about wanting "to spark a domestic debate."

The Pentagon released 84 pretrial documents on Wednesday that related to the case after several news organizations sent in public records requests. The documents are the first of about 500 that the Pentagon will release in response to the requests.

Bradley Manning was arrested in Iraq in May 2010. He was charged with downloading thousands of intelligence documents, diplomatic cables, and combat videos and forwarding them to WikiLeaks. The documents were leaked while Manning was with the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade Intelligence operation.