The young US soldier being held at a marine base is now facing 22 new charges with prosecutors calling for the death penalty.
Bradley Manning, the sole focus at present of US military anger and embarrassment over the WikiLeaks saga, is being held under conditions slated by human rights organisations. In spite of concerns expressed during his training over his emotional condition, he was sent to Iraq as an intelligence analyst, where, it is reported, he lost his ‘mental equilibrium’.
The 22 new charges, introduced after attempts by the Justice Department to pin a prosecution on Julian Assange came to nothing, mostly involve ‘aiding the enemy’, a capital offence. Although prosecutors inflamed Manning and his lawyer they would be seeking the death penalty, US Army officials yesterday made it clear a guilty verdict would result in life imprisonment rather than capital punishment.
A report released yesterday confirms the results of an earlier Army investigation at New York’s Fort Drum revealing Manning was posted to Iraq against the advice of a number of his superiors and that his emotional difficulties deepened after his arrival.
The report also criticises lax security at the computer centre where he worked.
According to a legal spokesman for the Military District of Washington, the new charges reflect the broadened scope of his crimes and are the result of a seven-month investigation, whereas the initial charges related to his downloading of a fatal helicopter gunship attack by terrorists which killed two Reuters reporters.
Should the legal process result in the military equivalent of an investigation by a grand jury followed by a court martial, the prosecution is expected to prioritise the most serious of Manning’s alleged crimes, the dissemination after downloading of thousands of diplomatic and military cables. The prosecution will allege his actions put at risk informants in Afghanistan working with US forces, although no individuals were named in the WikiLeaks releases.Author's Google+ page