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Secrecy Shrouds Pretrial Hearing In Wikileaks Case

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Associated Press

FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) - Government secrecy reaches a new level this week in the court-martial of an Army private who gave reams of classified documents to WikiLeaks.

The military judge has ordered what prosecutors say is an unprecedented closed hearing Wednesday to help her decide how much of Pfc. Bradley Manning's trial will be closed to protect national security.

An unidentified prosecution witness will testify in a "dry run" to test alternatives to courtroom closures during presentation of classified evidence. The strategies could include redacted documents, unclassified summaries and even code words for classified information.

Prosecutors have proposed closing up to 30% of the trial. That prompted Manning's lawyers to request the hearing to test all reasonable alternatives to closing large portions of the court-martial to the public.

Prosecutors say no other court has held such a hearing.

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