The U.S. Army has added 22 charges to its case against Bradley Manning, including “aiding the enemy,” which is a capital offense. While Manning could receive the death penalty for that charge, prosecutors only “recommended” life in prison, “if convicted on that charge alone.”
However, that recommendation can be ignored by the judge, NBC News reported.
Other charges include 16 “specifications of wrongfully causing classified material to be published on the Internet and knowing that the information would be accessed by the enemy; theft of public property or records; transmitting defense information and computer fraud.”
The Department of Defense tweeted about the new charges March 2, noting that “22 additional charges preferred against PFC #Manning including a capital offense #BreakingNews” and “Despite 22 new charges, PFC #Manning presumed innocent until proven guilty.”
Military District of Washington legal spokesperson Capt. John Haberland is quoted as saying: “The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Pvt. 1st Class Manning is accused of committing.”
Coombs stated that Manning’s “commander” makes “the decision to prefer charges.”
“The Article 32 Investigating “the nature of the charges and the number of specifications under each reflects his determination, in consultation with his Staff Judge Advocate’s office, of the possible offenses in this case. Ultimately, the Article 32 Investigating Officer will determine which, if any, of these additional charges and specifications should be referred to a court-martial.”
Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist/Bradley Manning Support Network stated on BradleyManning.org that he was “shocked” at the new charges.
The Los Angeles Times reported: “The new charges reflect the expanding U.S. investigation into the disclosures, which U.S. officials say is aimed at punishing not only those who provided the information to WikiLeaks, but also members of the secretive organization, including its founder, Julian Assange. Manning remains the only person charged in the case, but U.S. officials say the Justice Department is examining possible charges in civilian courts in connection with the disclosures.”
The Los Angeles Times quoted Roger Williams University School of Law professor and a Marine Corps Reserve lawyer Jon Shelburne on the charges. Shelburne explained that he sees “the new charges as an effort by prosecutors to pressure Manning and his lawyers into reaching a plea deal to avoid what could be a long and difficult court-martial.”
Shelburne further “noted that the charging documents did not specify what enemy Manning was alleged to have aided. If the case goes to trial, Manning’s lawyers will probably try to force prosecutors to show what specific benefit U.S. enemies derived from the disclosure of the documents, which could be difficult, he said.”
“Based on statements, WikiLeaks, a publisher, is ‘the enemy’. Sets a very dangerous precedent for all media.”
Another stated: “To be convicted of ‘aiding an enemy’ US must prove alleged recipient @WikiLeaks, was ‘hostile body.'”
According to the Los Angeles Times,
“Court-martial proceedings have been delayed until completion of an inquiry into Manning’s mental state, a process that his defense team said would probably take two to six more weeks. The final decision about what Manning will be charged with will be up to Maj. Gen. Karl R. Horst, commander of the Military District of Washington. Pentagon officials say his decision is probably months away.”
Meanwhile, WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange’s lawyers have appealed the approval for his extradition to Sweden, CNN reported. However, “lawyers do not expect the case to be heard for another two or three months.”