New charge against alleged WikiLeaker carries death penalty

Bradley Manning accused of aiding the enemy

The US Army has filed 22 additional charges against accused WikiLeaks source Pfc. Bradley Manning, including one that carries a potential death sentence.

The aiding the enemy offense filed against the Army intelligence analyst is the military equivalent of treason, but prosecutors said on Wednesday that they planned to seek only a sentence of life in prison if he is convicted on the charge. The decision ultimately rests with the presiding military judge, who would be free to sentence Manning to death if he is found guilty, according to NBC News.

Manning, 23, was arrested in May and charged in July with downloading confidential documents and later supplying them to WikiLeaks. The whistleblower website has been publishing the material since July.

The new charges come after an intensive seven-month investigation that has coincided with what Attorney General Eric Holder has characterized as “a very serious, active, ongoing investigation that is criminal in nature” against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Pentagon and military officials told NBC News that investigators have made no direct link between Manning and Assange, and none of the charges filed against Manning make any reference to WikiLeaks. The news outlet has previously reported that US investigators have been unable to prove that WikiLeaks obtained classified US files from Manning.

Other new charges filed against Manning include theft of public property or records, computer fraud, transmitting defense information and wrongfully causing intelligence to be published knowing it would be accessible to the enemy.

“The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Pvt. 1st Class Manning is accused of committing," Capt. John Haberland, a legal spokesman for the Military District of Washington, said in a statement.

Manning remains in custody at the US Marine Brig at Quantico, south of Washington, DC. He has been alternately been held under suicide watch and prevention of injury designations, which among other things require him to be confined to a 6-by-12-foot cell with a bed, a drinking fountain and a toilet for about 23 hours a day and heavily restrict him from reading or exercising. ®

This article was updated to correct Eric Holder's title.

Sponsored: 5 critical considerations for enterprise cloud backup