A US Army intelligence analyst was charged on Monday with eight violations of federal criminal law for leaking confidential military documents and videos, including a 2007 video of US attack helicopter brutally murdering civilians and journalists in Baghdad that was leaked to controversial whistleblower site Wikileaks.com.
Pfc. Bradley Manning, 22, allegedly transferred classified information onto his computer, abused access to a secret military information network and transferred the helicopter attack video and 50 classified cables to a third party, a violation of the US Espionage Act, according to www.Wired.com, one of the first sites to post Manning’s charges.
The video shows a crosshairs view of an air strike that killed and injured several civilians in Baghdad, including two Reuters journalists. Wikileaks posted the video in April.
It remains unclear if armed insurgents were among the 12 victims of the air strike, as the Apache pilots believed.
Manning is also accused of abusing access to the government’s Secret Internet Protocol Reuter network to obtain more than 150,000 US State Department cables, some of them classified, and passing 50 cables off to an unauthorized person, according to the charge sheet posted on Wired. The charges indicate that Manning leaked information in order to “discredit” the armed forces.
If convicted of all the charges, Manning could face around 50 years in prison. He his being held in Kuwait as the investigation continues.
Wired reported that Manning was allegedly consorting with a former hacker in order to make classified documents available to the public in order to reveal what he described as “almost criminal political back dealings.”
The charges specifically mention one cable titled “Reykjavik 13,” which Wikileaks posted in February. The cable details a meeting between members of the Icelandic government and the US embassy there.
A recent article in The New Yorker reveals that Reyjavik, Iceland was also the temporary home of a Wikileaks current operations hub: a small residence occupied by Australian-born journalist and ex-hacker (according to Wired) Julian Assange who has become the public face of the organization.
Wired reported that Manning was allegedly turned in by former hacker Adrian Lamo. Manning allegedly told Lamo, whom he met online, that he was leaking classified documents via Wikileaks.
Manning also said he gave Wikileaks 260,000 secret files detailing US foreign policy, but Assange had denied his organization received them.
Manning also admitted to Lamo that he leaked to Wikileaks a video of the notorious May 2009 air strike near Garani village in Afghanistan, which the local government said killed nearly 100 civilians, most of them children, according to Wired. Wikileaks announced earlier this month that it would release the video. The Pentagon made headlines last year when it owned up to the killings.
According to Wired, Manning allegedly told Lamo that there is a scandal to be revealed in every US post across the world.
“Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack when they wake up one morning, and find an entire repository of classified foreign policy is available, in searchable format, to the public,” Manning told Lamo in an online chat session.
Assange, who has been painted by the press as a tireless media activist attempting to increase the transparency of the world’s most powerful institutions, has arranged a legal team for Manning and requested that Lamo turn over copies of his online chats with Manning, according to Wired.
In March Wikileaks released website also revealed that four Republicans in Congress recently asked Homeland Security how the government can take legal action against Wikileaks.