The Army has brought new charges - including one that carries the death penalty - against Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, a former intelligence analyst accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks.
But prosecutors would not seek Manning’s execution if he were convicted of the capital offense of “aiding the enemy,” officials said Wednesday in a statement that outlined the 22 charges.
Though the statement did not specify the enemy, Manning, 23, is accused of giving documents to WikiLeaks that related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and that U.S. officials have asserted could put soldiers and civilians at risk.
Manning’s supporters reacted to the new charges with dismay. “I’m shocked that the military opted to charge Pfc. Bradley Manning today with the capital offense of ’aiding the enemy,’” said Jeff Paterson, project director of Courage to Resist, which has raised money for Manning’s defense. “While the military is downplaying the fact, the option to execute Bradley has been placed on the table.”
Paterson added that “it’s beyond ironic that leaked U.S. State Department cables have contributed to revolution and revolt” in the Middle East, “yet an American may be executed, or at best face life in prison, for being the primary whistleblower.”