Bradley Manning, WikiLeaks' alleged source, faces 22 new charges
Wednesday, March 2, 2011; 8:52 PM
The Army has brought new charges - including one that carries the death penalty - against Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, a former intelligence analyst accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks.
But prosecutors would not seek Manning's execution if he were convicted of the capital offense of "aiding the enemy," officials said Wednesday in a statement that outlined the 22 charges.
Though the statement did not specify the enemy, Manning, 23, is accused of giving documents to WikiLeaks that related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and that U.S. officials have asserted could put soldiers and civilians at risk.
The new charges, filed Tuesday under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, also include wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, knowing that it will be accessed by the enemy, and violating Army regulations on information security.
They augment charges brought last July against Manning, who is confined in a military facility in Quantico pending a mental health review to determine his fitness for a court-martial.
"The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Pfc. Manning is accused of committing," Capt. John Haberland, a spokesman for the Military District of Washington, said in the statement.
The prosecution has notified Manning's attorneys that it will not recommend the death penalty to the convening authority, which in the military criminal justice system is a general officer who decides whether to proceed to a court-martial and what charges to pursue.
The decision means that Manning, if convicted of all charges, would face a maximum punishment of life in prison, forfeiture of all pay and allowances, a reduction in rank to the lowest enlisted pay grade, E-1, and a dishonorable discharge, officials said.
Manning's supporters reacted to the new charges with dismay. "I'm shocked that the military opted to charge Pfc. Bradley Manning today with the capital offense of 'aiding the enemy,' " said Jeff Paterson, project director of Courage to Resist, which has raised money for Manning's defense. "While the military is downplaying the fact, the option to execute Bradley has been placed on the table."
Paterson added that "it's beyond ironic that leaked U.S. State Department cables have contributed to revolution and revolt" in the Middle East, "yet an American may be executed, or at best face life in prison, for being the primary whistleblower."
Adrian Lamo, a former computer hacker who reported Manning to authorities after the soldier confided in him about the alleged acts, said it was necessary that "charges be commensurate to the crime, but I hope that in the sentencing phase, motivations will be taken into account: [Manning's] lack of malice and a positive intent, even if misguided, to create a more transparent government."
In the wake of releases of classified documents by WikiLeaks, some lawmakers have called for the death penalty for Manning. But the prosecution's decision not to seek the death penalty makes such a sentence highly unlikely.
Staff researcher Julie Tate contributed to this report.