Bradley Manning may face death
'Aiding the enemy' among 22 new charges brought against US soldier held
in solitary confinement
Bradley Manning’s detention in
solitary confinement has been criticised by human rights organisations
including Amnesty. Photograph: AP
Bradley Manning, the US soldier who has spent 10 months in solitary
confinement on suspicion of having transmitted a huge trove of state
WikiLeaks, now faces a possible death penalty.
intelligence specialist, who is being held in the maximum security jail
on Quantico marine base in Virginia, has been handed 22 additional
military charges as part of his court martial process.
They come on
top of initial charges of having illegally obtained 150,000 secret US
government cables and handing more than 50 of them to an unauthorised
person that carried a possible sentence of up to 52 years in prison.
lawyer, David Coombs, said that the most serious of the new charges was
the Article 104 offence of "aiding the enemy". The charge carries a
potential death sentence.
involves "giving intelligence to the enemy", which is defined as
"organised opposing forces in time of war but also other hostile body
that our forces may be opposing such as a rebellious mob or a band of
renegades". Such an enemy could be civilian or military in nature.
sheet, like the original set of accusations, contains no mention by name
of the enemy to which the
US military is referring.
It could be
WikiLeaks itself, which the US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, has
accused of launching an "attack on America". Or it could be a reference
to enemy forces in Afghanistan.
report by NBC News said Pentagon officials emphasised that some
WikiLeaks material contained names of informants and others working with
US forces whose lives could have been put in danger.
Coombs, the 22 new charges were preferred by Manning's commanding
officer after he made his own assessment of possible offences in the
case. Under the court martial procedure, a provisional hearing, known as
an Article 32, will be held in late May or early June when final charges
to be laid against Manning will be decided. At that stage it will be
known for certain whether the private faces a possible death sentence in
the court martial itself.
accused of being the single source of many sensational WikiLeaks
disclosures of US state secrets, some of which were published alongside
the Guardian and other papers round the world. They include aerial
footage of a US military attack on civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan war
logs and thousands of US embassy cables.
He is being
held in Quantico in conditions that have elicited protests from numerous
organisations, including his own supporter networks and Amnesty
International. The UN is investigating whether his treatment, which
includes being held in his 6ft by 12ft cell for 23 hours a day, amounts
being kept on a "prevention of injury" watch which requires him to be
held on his own and viewed every five minutes, despite prison
psychiatrists' opinion that he is not a danger to himself.
a researcher at MIT who is one of very few people to have visited
Manning in prison, told the Firedoglake news website that
the "aiding the enemy" charge was similar to Richard Nixon's
heavy-handed treatment of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon
Papers. Nixon called Ellsberg "the most dangerous man in America" and
said he was "providing aid and comfort to the enemy".
see the Obama administration continuing the legacy Nixon started by
declaring whistleblowers as enemies of the state. It is a sad and
dangerous day for transparency advocates everywhere," House said.