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Judge sides with US government, Army in document dispute involving Bradley Manning case

A federal judge in Baltimore said Wednesday she's satisfied for now with measures the military has taken to release documents related to Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's court-martial in the Wikileaks case.

Lawyers for the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights and other groups, including The Associated Press, have complained for more than a year that court documents related to the military case were being released too slowly, if at all. Earlier this month, however, the Army put the vast majority of the documents online. The Army also promised to be forthcoming with the documents as Manning's trial, which began June 3, continues at Maryland's Fort Meade. The documents are being posted for the public and press on an Internet site.

But lawyers for the center said they weren't satisfied. One argued in court Monday that the Army's turnaround time to release new documents — a goal of one to two days — was too long for journalists covering the trial. He also objected to redactions and sought access to transcripts or audio recordings of past proceedings.

But on Wednesday, the judge in the case, Ellen L. Hollander, sided with the Army. In a 42-page ruling she wrote of the lag time in releasing documents that there was "no indication that such a brief delay is unreasonable." And she said she wouldn't order the Army to speed up the release transcripts and audio of past proceedings because it would be "a serious and unwarranted interference in the operation of the court-martial." She also agreed certain redactions were appropriate.

A lawyer for the Center for Constitutional Rights, Shayana Kadidal, said the decision was "disappointing" and that the center is considering its options.

The center initially petitioned an Army court in May 2012 for better access to the documents, filing its petition on behalf of the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, its founder Julian Assange and several left-leaning pundits and publications. At the time, pre-trial proceedings in the case were underway. But the nation's highest military court said earlier this year that it wasn't the right place for the dispute. Some of the judges suggested the dispute could be heard by a civilian court, which is how the case landed in federal court in Baltimore.

Manning's trial, meanwhile, began its third week Monday. The 25-year-old Oklahoma native has acknowledged giving information to WikiLeaks, but said it did not harm national security. He faces numerous charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.

As of Wednesday evening, the last time case documents were posted on the Army site was Tuesday morning.

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Online:

Center for Constitutional Rights: https://ccrjustice.org/about

Manning trial documents: https://www.rmda.army.mil/foia/FOIA_ReadingRoom/Detail.aspx?id=85

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Follow Jessica Gresko on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessicagresko

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