A US military judge Wednesday rejected a request to dismiss all charges against soldier Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking a stash of secret documents to the WikiLeaks website.
Defense lawyers for Manning had demanded that all 22 counts against him be thrown out because they say the government has consistently "stashed away" crucial information that could help their client mount his defense.
But the judge, Colonel Denise Lind, told a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade military base in the eastern US state of Maryland that the court had found "no evidence of prosecutorial misconduct."
"The government properly understood its obligation" to share relevant information with the defense, she said, setting September 21 as a tentative date for the start of the 24-year-old soldier's trial.
Legal analysts had expected such a decision.
Lind was also due to rule on a motion by Manning's lawyers asking for access to testimony from a federal grand jury that is delving into the WikiLeaks episode.
The defense team won a skirmish against government lawyers on Tuesday with the judge ordering prosecutors to provide her by May 18 with an array of reports by the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other agencies looking at the damage caused by the publishing of reams of classified data by WikiLeaks.
The defense lawyers hope the assessments might undermine prosecutors' claims that the exposure of classified documents via WikiLeaks caused serious damage to national security.
The judge also ordered prosecutors to scan hard drives from the unit where Manning worked in Iraq to search for specific software.
The defense lawyers believe a search of the computers will show that other soldiers were downloading unauthorized software, including chat services and games, on purportedly secure computers.
In the worst breach of US intelligence in history, Manning is accused of passing hundreds of thousands of military field reports from Iraq and Afghanistan and US diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks between November 2009 and May 2010, when he served as a low-ranking intelligence analyst in Iraq.
Prosecutors allege Manning betrayed the trust of the US government and helped Al-Qaeda by divulging classified intelligence online.
Manning's lawyers are also seeking to have the most serious charge of "aiding the enemy" dismissed as they say the government has no evidence to show their client intended to help Al-Qaeda.
If convicted of the charge, known as article 104 under the military code, Manning, who has yet to enter a plea in the case, faces a possible life sentence.
US authorities have already come under criticism by civil rights and press freedom groups over the withholding of court documents.
The judge on Tuesday declined a request from the Center for Constitutional Rights to grant open access to prosecution filings and judicial opinions in the Manning case.
Lind said that those interested in court documents could file requests under the Freedom of Information Act but she raised no objection to the defense lawyers' posting their motions online.
The defense motions are published after being vetted for any sensitive details that could pose security risks.
The Welsh-born US army intelligence officer was transferred a year ago from a military prison at Quantico, Virginia -- where he had been imprisoned since July 2010 -- to another in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Manning's detention conditions at Quantico, which included solitary confinement and being forced to sleep naked, drew the attention of Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and the British government.© ANP/AFP