US tribunal urges trial of WikiLeaks suspect

Bradley Manning faces 22 charges for allegedly leaking a massive trove of classified US documents to WikiLeaks.

    US Army Private Bradley Manning is accused of disclosing diplomatic cables to the WikiLeaks website [GALLO/GETTY]

    A US military tribunal has recommended a court martial for Bradley Manning, the soldier alleged to have funnelled thousands of classified US documents to whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

    "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," the US Army Military District of Washington said on Thursday.

    "He recommended that the charges be referred to a general court martial."

    The 22 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.

    Almanza's report was sent to Colonel Carl Coffman, a base commander who will make a recommendation to a higher Washington commander, Major General Michael Linnington, whose decision will be final.

    The military did not provide a timeline for those actions.

    Private 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 the massive intelligence breach.

    Defence lawyers 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 defence lawyer 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.

    Manning was placed in a maximum-security military prison in the US state of Virginia under conditions of solitary confinement from July 2010 to April 2011. He has since been transfered to a medium-security facility in Kansas.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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