Wikileaker Could Face Death Penalty

A United States Army Private could be facing the death penalty after leaking documents to Wikileaks. The whistle-blowing website publishes submissions of secret and classified media from anonymous news sources.

Private Bradley Manning has now been charged with an additional 22 counts, including the capital offence of “aiding the enemy”.

Among Private Bradley Manning’s offences are eight counts of transmitting defence information in breach of the Espionage Act, five charges of theft of public property or records, five charges of violating US Army computer-security regulations, two counts of computer fraud and one charge of wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet knowing it would be accessible to the enemy. Although the offence of “aiding the enemy” is punishable by death sentence, prosecutors have said that if convicted, they will not seek the death penalty.

The charges arise out of accusations that Manning leaked thousands of documents relating to the conduct of American and coalition forces in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Among the material was a video from July 2007 of a US Army Apache helicopter killing two reporters and Iraqi civilians.

After months of investigations by the US Army Criminal Investigation Command and other agencies, the US Army announced the extra the charges in a statement released last week. Captain John Haberland, a legal spokesperson for the US Army Military District of Washington, said, “the new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Private First Class Manning is accused of committing”.

In their statement, the Army ensured the safety and well-being of Manning in his pre-trial confinement. Private Manning has been kept in isolation at a military prison in Virginia since he was first charged with offences in July last year.