WASHINGTON — A US military tribunal is recommending a court martial for Army Private Bradley Manning for allegedly funneling thousands of classified US documents to WikiLeaks, the US Army said Thursday.
“The investigating officer (Lieutenant Colonel Paul Almanza) concluded that the charges and specifications are in the proper form and that reasonable grounds exist to believe that the accused committed the offenses alleged,” according to the US Army Military District of Washington.
“He recommended that the charges be referred to a general court martial.”
The charges include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing it is accessible to the enemy, and theft of public property or records.
Manning, 24, was the focus of a seven-day hearing last month to determine whether or not he should face a court-martial for what authorities have described as one of the most serious intelligence breaches in US history.
Defense attorneys argued at the conclusion of those proceedings that the charges should be reduced.
Manning, who served in Iraq from November 2009 until his arrest the following May, faces life in prison if convicted.
The young soldier from Oklahoma, who was trained on various intelligence systems by the US military, is accused of giving WikiLeaks a massive trove of US military reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, classified State Department cables, Guantanamo detainee assessments and videos of US air strikes.
Army investigators told last month’s hearing that contact information for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, military reports, cables and other classified material had been found on computers and storage devices used by Manning.
In his closing statement at that hearing, Manning’s civilian defense attorney David Coombs said the government “overcharged in this case,” and he urged Almanza to reduce the charges to just three counts that would carry a total of 30 years in prison.
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