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Wikileaks US Army mole Manning charged

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Fresh news today in the case of Bradley Manning, the US soldier suspected of leaking classified military material - including video of a controversial attack-helicopter strike in which Iraqi civilians including children were hit - to Wikileaks.

According to a statement issued by the 1st Armored Division public-affairs staff in Baghdad, Manning was formally charged yesterday with committing two offences under the US Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) between November 2009 and May 2010.

The first charge comes under UCMJ article 92. Military prosecutors allege that Manning, employed as an intelligence specialist at Contingency Operating Base Hammer in Iraq, violated a lawful Army regulation in that he transferred classified data onto his personal computer and added unauthorised software to a classified computer system.

The second UCMJ charge is under article 134, that Manning allegedly committed various further offences under the ordinary US criminal code. These offences included "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source"; "disclosing classified information concerning the national defense with reason to believe that the information could cause injury to the United States" and "exceeding authorized computer access to obtain classified information".

US commanders in Iraq will now convene a UCMJ Article 32 hearing, similar to one by a US grand jury. The investigating officer in charge will make a recommendation to Manning's chain of command whether or not to refer the case for trial by court-martial.

Manning was arrested by US military police in May, reportedly following a tip-off from a former hacker named Adrian Lamo whom he had contacted on the internet. Manning was thought to be the source of video taken during an attack by US attack helicopters above Baghdad in 2007, which saw Reuters journalists killed and other unarmed civilians - including two children - struck.

The Pentagon subsequently concluded that the helicopter crews had acted within their rules of engagement, noting that US ground troops had just come under heavy attack nearby and that armed men were among those hit.

According to Lamo's account, Manning did not confine his activities to the 2007 helicopter strike. Lamo said the soldier was "basically trying to vacuum up as much classified information as he could, and just throwing it up into the air".

It has been speculated that Wikileaks may be in possession of more material supplied by Manning which has not yet been released. ®

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