The U.S. Army today charged Pfc. Bradley Manning with 22 additional offenses related to the release of classified documents to WikiLeaks, including "aiding the enemy," traditionally a capital offense. But in a release announcing the new charges, the Army said it would not be recommending the death penalty.
The charges, announced after what the Army said was a seven-month investigation, also included wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet where it could be accessed by "the enemy," theft of public records, transmitting defense information, and fraud in connection with computers. The new counts included five violations of Army regulations as well, the Army release said. During this time Manning has been held in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps Base brig at Quantico, Va.
“The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Pvt. 1st Class Manning is accused of committing,” said Capt. John Haberland, a legal spokesperson for the Military District of Washington.
He said the new charges will not affect Manning’s right to a speedy trial or his pre-trial confinement, which his lawyers have argued include unprecedented isolation because of a suicide watch. Manning's lawyers say the suicide watch is unnecessary and amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
The Army's release noted that the charge of aiding the enemy will mean that Manning faces life in prison if convicted. He would also be dishonorably discharged and required to forfeit all pay and allowances.
Manning is suspected of leaking thousands of classified military documents relating to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks -- and most recently, of leaking a quarter-million State Department documents. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for “aggressive steps” to find and hold responsible anyone involved in what she called the “alleged” leaks of State Department cables, and Attorney General Eric Holder has insisted that the administration’s quest to prosecute is “not saber-rattling.”
Meanwhile, a London judge ruled last week that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange should be extradited to Sweden over allegations of rape and sexual assault, which Assange has denied and dismissed as part of a “smear campaign” launched by the U.S. Assange, who is contesting the extradition ruling, has said in the past that he is not extremely concerned about being extradited to Sweden, but rather to the U.S., which is building an investigation against him over the cables.
Manning’s trial proceedings have been delayed since last July, as his attorneys have had his mental capacity evaluated. At that time, he was charged with two initial criminal counts related to the leaks.
"The U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps are committed to ensuring the continued safety and well-being of Pvt. 1st Class Manning while in pretrial confinement," the Army said today.