An American soldier suspected of leaking video footage of a US Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad that killed two employees of the Reuters news agency has been charged, the military said on Tuesday.
Private First Class Bradley E. Manning, held in a military jail in Kuwait since last month in connection with the July 2007 attack, faces two charges of misconduct, said a statement released by the US army in Baghdad.
The first charge, is for violating army regulations by “transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorised software to a classified computer system,” the statement said.
WikiLeaks, a whistleblowing website, released in April the video that showed the Reuters employees being gunned down by the US army helicopter three years ago.
An article at Boing Boing adds,
Earlier today, Boing Boing reported news that the U.S. has filed formal charges against Pfc. Bradley Manning, the 22-year-old Army Intelligence Specialist who is believed to have leaked damning classified data to Wikileaks. The “charge sheet” published on Boing Boing specified 8 federal criminal violations, including one identified as a violation of the Espionage Act. I spoke to Lieutenant Colonel Eric Bloom of the U.S. Army’s Public Affairs Office for more. The Army won’t confirm that Manning leaked anything to Wikileaks, or that he obtained and transmitted “260,000 State department cables,” the specific number widely reportedÃ¢â‚¬â€ but the Army charge sheet released today does say the 22-year-old engaged in “conduct being prejudicial to good order and discipline in the armed forces,” which threatened to “bring discredit upon the armed forces.”
Boing Boing/Xeni Jardin: What are the maximum penalties in Manning’s case, based on the charges filed today? Do any of these charges carry the possibility of capital punishment?
U.S. Army/Ltc. Eric Bloom: No, I don’t think we’re talking about the death penalty. We have calculated the maximum possible number of years based on these charges to be 52 years.
RAW STORY reported last month, “Manning reportedly told authorities that he’d leaked reams of State Department communiques.”
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available,Ã¢â‚¬Â the 22-year-old Army specialist wrote of the cables, according to a story published at Wired.com.
Wikileaks responded to Manning’s claim on Twitter, saying that reports that Ã¢â‚¬Å“we have been sent 260,000 classified U.S. embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Regardless, Shenon says that US government officials believe Assange is in possession of at least some secret State Department cables.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It looks like theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re playing some sort of semantic games,Ã¢â‚¬Â one US official purportedly told Shenon. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They may not have 260,000 cables, but theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ve probably got enough cables to make trouble.Ã¢â‚¬Â
It’s unclear what US authorities could do to prevent the secretive Wikileaks founder from publishing classified US documents, since the website is based on servers in Sweden, a country that has traditionally looked favorably on whistleblower claims.