US Army recommends court-martial for Manning

A 24-year-old US soldier, accused of committing the biggest intelligence leak of classified government information in American history to WikiLeaks, may face a general court-martial.

Lieutenant Colonel Paul Almanza, the investigating officer assigned to Bradley Manning's case, "concluded that the charges and specifications are in the proper form and that reasonable grounds exist to believe that the accused committed the offenses alleged," the US Army said in a statement.

"He recommended that the charges be referred to a general court-martial," it said.

The recommendation now goes Col. Carl Coffman, the "special court-martial convening authority." If he approves, the recommendation would then go to the commander of the military district of Washington for a final decision on Manning's case, CNN reported.

The charges against Manning, a low-ranking intelligence analyst, include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, transmitting national defense information, and theft of public property or records.

If Manning is tried and convicted on all charges, it is recommended he face a maximum of life in prison. Aiding the enemy is capital offense, but the investigating officer endorsed the view of military prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.

During the proceedings in December, prosecutors presented evidence that Manning allegedly communicated with whistle- blower site WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in a series of Internet chats about uploading 700 Guantanamo Bay detainee interrogation reports.

WikiLeaks started releasing the sensitive documents in July 2010. It dumped the entire archive of diplomatic documents in September 2011, causing huge embarrassment to the United States.

Prosecutors charge Manning put software on secure computers to allow him to download classified material and burn it to a compact disc.

Manning, native of Oklahoma, was assigned as an intelligence analyst in Iraq and had a top-secret clearance. He worked in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility, known as SCIF.

"We're disappointed but by no means surprised," said Jeff Paterson, a lead organiser for the Bradley Manning Support Network after hearing about the recommendation for a court martial.

Manning's supporters claim that the US military has not presented evidence about how the alleged leaks of documents to WikiLeaks harmed national security.

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