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Military judge sets terms for possible Manning plea

The ruling establishes how alleged Wikileaking Army private Bradley Manning could plead guilty to seven charges and face up to 16 years in prison.

Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private accused of sharing documents with WikiLeaks that were eventually released on the Internet, is now one step closer to handling some of the claims brought against him.

Military judge Col. Denise Lind today accepted the language used to describe seven charges to which Manning could plead guilty. The charges include Manning willfully sending videos, war logs, and other classified materials to WikiLeaks.

The Associated Press was first to report on the ruling.

To be clear, Col. Lind's ruling does not imply that Manning willl offer a guilty plea. Instead, the ruling approves how the charges will be presented in the event Manning pleads guilty to them.

Earlier this month, Manning's attorney, David Coombs, said in a pre-trial hearing that his client would plead guilty to the charges brought before the court today. The attorney said at the time that "Manning is attempting to accept responsibility for offenses that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offenses."

Last year, the U.S. military slapped Manning with 22 charges, including an offense that could carry a maximum penalty of life in prison.

If Manning goes through with a guilty plea to the seven charges and the court accepts it, he could face a maximum of 16 years in prison. It's not clear what might happen with the remaining charges if the pleas are accepted.