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Top military court rules on Manning document issue

Jessica Gresko, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. military's highest court ruled Wednesday it isn't the right place for a dispute over public access to documents in the court-martial of Pfc. Bradley Manning.

The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights had sued seeking access to documents in the ongoing case. The center was seeking timely access to transcripts, motions, court orders and other documents in the case of Manning, who is charged with giving classified information to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks.

Three of the five judges for the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces who heard the case, however, said the court doesn't have the authority to consider the question of access. The judges suggested in a ruling Tuesday that the dispute could be heard by a civilian court. The two other judges dissented.

The documents the center wanted are generally available in civilian courts on the day they are filed. However, the military has not made them readily available in Manning's case.

The Center for Constitutional Rights was representing itself as well as WikiLeaks, its founder Julian Assange and several left-leaning pundits and publications that want access to the documents. More than 30 news organizations, including The Associated Press, also supported the request for access in a brief filed by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press.

The Washington-based court heard arguments on the issue of access in October.

Baher Azmy, the legal director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, said the organization has not yet decided how to proceed.


Follow Jessica Gresko at https://twitter.com/jessicagresko