Manning hit with 22 additional criminal charges

Army private who allegedly supplied WikiLeaks with classified documents is facing 22 additional criminal charges that include a possible death penalty, the U.S. military says today.

Alleged WikiLeaks leaker Bradley Manning is facing 22 additional criminal charges, including one that involves the death penalty, the U.S. military said today.

The SaveBradley Facebook page. Screenshot by CNET

These add to the charges already pending against the U.S. Army private suspected of being the source for WikiLeaks' massive document dumps of military and State Department files. Manning is currently being held at a military jail in Quantico, Va., outside of Washington, D.C.

Manning was originally charged last July with sending a military video to a person not authorized to receive it and with obtaining "more than 150,000 diplomatic cables" from the State Department. WikiLeaks began to release the department's internal cables last fall, following the publication of military dispatches from Afghanistan and Iraq a few months earlier.

David Coombs, Manning's attorney, said today that, for the last few weeks, "the defense has been preparing for the possibility of additional charges in this case." An investigating officer will have to decide which, if any, of these additional charges will be referred to a court martial, Coombs said.

Perhaps the most serious of the additional charges is an allegation of aiding the enemy. The Army's benchbook (PDF) for military judges says that crime is punishable by death.

The charge requires that any "intelligence" given to the enemy is, at least in part, true. "Enemy" is defined as not only opposing forces in time of war, but also a "hostile body" and "civilians as well as members of military organizations."

In a note on its Twitter feed, the Department of Defense pointed out that one of the charges is a "capital offense," meaning punishable by death. But our colleagues at CBS News are being told that Army prosecutors will ask only for life in prison and not the death penalty.

There's no mention of WikiLeaks or its spokesman, Julian Assange, in the 8-page charge sheet . CBS News national security correspondent David Martin, who covers the Pentagon, says that's "not surprising since the Justice Department has opened an espionage case against Assange and would not want to give away any details of its investigation until it's completed."

WikiLeaks responded to the news of the additional charges by saying the charge of aiding the enemy "is a vindictive attack on Manning for exercising his right to silence."

Manning is, of course, presumed innocent until proved guilty.

Among the additional charges: While in Iraq, Manning caused "to be published on the Internet intelligence belonging to the United States government." He allegedly leaked a video file titled "12 JUL 07 CZ ENGAGEMENT ZONE 30 GC Anyone.avi." And he allegedly expropriated an "Iraq Microsoft Outlook / SharePoint Exchange Server global address list belonging to the United States government."

Manning has been kept in solitary confinement and his activities heavily restricted, which prompted him to lodge a complaint, also signed by his attorney, against the Quantico base commander.

The complaint says that as of January 18 his captivity conditions were changed to: "I sit in my cell for 24 hours a day. I am stripped of all clothing with the exception of my underwear. My prescription eyeglasses are taken away from me. I am forced to sit in essential blindness...Additionally, there is a guard sitting outside of my cell watching me at all times."

Adrian Lamo, a hacker who pleaded guilty in 2004 to breaking into The New York Times' computer network, told CNET last June that Manning had contacted him and shared details of his leaks. Lamo said he subsequently tipped off and met with authorities.

Lamo said today that he considers Manning a "spy." He also said the private likely will escape the death penalty because "we don't habitually execute spies." The additional charges are "commensurate with the gravity" of Manning's offenses, Lamo said, adding that he was "maintaining hope that Manning will have a life to rebuild once he has paid his debt to society."

 

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