FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - An Army investigator testified on Tuesday he found no evidence that a soldier accused of the biggest breach of classified information in U.S. history hated his country or had any terrorism-related material on his laptop.
The investigator’s testimony on the second day of Private First Class Bradley Manning’s court martial came after prosecutors told the judge on Monday that the soldier had been driven by arrogance to leak more than 700,000 documents, combat videos and other data to the anti-secrecy website, WikiLeaks.
Lawyers for the 25-year-old Manning described the former intelligence analyst in Iraq as naive but well intentioned in wanting to show the American public the reality of war in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Manning case has pitted civil liberties groups that want more transparency about military and diplomatic affairs against the government, which accuses Manning of endangering lives and souring sensitive diplomacy by leaking classified information.
Mark Johnson, a civilian digital forensic examiner with the U.S. Army’s Computer Crimes Investigation Unit, told the court at Fort Meade, Maryland that he found three “items of interest.” They included digital slides, WikiLeaks contact details and a video on a laptop seized from Manning’s living quarters at an Army base in Baghdad in 2010.
He did not describe the contents of the documents. One of Manning’s lawyers, Major Thomas Hurley, asked Johnson if he had found “anything indicating hatred of America.”
“No, but we would have noted it,” Johnson replied. “We didn’t find it.”
The search did not turn up any materials related to terrorism, Johnson testified.
WikiLeaks began exposing the leaked U.S. government secrets in 2010, stunning diplomats and U.S. officials. Manning has been in confinement since he was arrested in May 2010.
Manning could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if convicted. He faces 21 charges, including the most serious one of aiding the enemy, and prosecution under the Espionage Act of 1917.
The judge, Colonel Denise Lind, said last month she would close parts of the trial to the public to protect classified material. The government plans to call 141 witnesses and the defense has listed 46 witnesses.
WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange, an Australian, denies the allegations.
Ecuadorean officials on Monday said they planned to meet their British counterparts to seek a solution to Assange’s year-long standoff.
Assange and Manning are the subject of a documentary, “We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks” that opened in theaters last month.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Grant McCool