An Army investigating officer recommended Thursday that accused leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning face a court-martial for his alleged role in providing massive amounts of classified information to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
The ruling came after a preliminary hearing last month in which prosecutors presented evidence appearing to link Manning with the security breach, including chat logs between him and WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange. Manning faces 22 counts, including aiding the enemy, and could face life in prison if convicted.
The investigating officer, Lt. Col. Paul Almanza, found that the charges presented at the preliminary hearing offered reasonable evidence that Manning had committed the offenses alleged. Manning, 24, worked as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad and was detained in May 2010 and charged that July.
Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to WikiLeaks. They include State Department cables, daily field reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, detainee assessments from Guantanamo Bay, and a 2007 Army video of an Apache helicopter firing on civilians.
Manning, a native of Crescent, Okla., was stationed at Forward Operating Base Hammer near Baghdad in November 2009. Manning first contacted Assange the same month he deployed to Baghdad.
Investigators recovered a memory card from Manning’s aunt’s home in Potomac, Md., that contained Afghanistan and Iraq field reports. He had left the card there in January 2010 during home leave.
In the preliminary hearing, more than 20 of Manning’s associates testified about his mental state, work product and training. The prosecution presented evidence showing that Manning had been well trained on the handling of classified information and would have been aware of the military regulations restricting the dissemination of classified documents.
Defense attorney David Coombs argued that Manning’s superiors should have recognized signs that he was mentally unstable and stripped him of his access to classified information. He also argued that the military had overcharged Manning and made a plea to reduce the charges from 22 to three.
Coombs did not reply to requests for comment on Thursday.
Another military body, called a convening authority, will make the final decision of whether to refer the case to general court-martial.
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