US lessens one of 22 charges mounting against Wikileaks source Manning
MOSCOW, May 22 (RAPSI) – US federal prosecutors have decided to drop one of the 22 offenses presently mounting against former military intelligence analyst Bradley Manning who stands accused of having disclosed a great deal of classified information to Wikileaks, The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington reported in a summary of the pretrial proceeding held Tuesday.
According to Pilkington, the charge centered on the leak of a state department cable referred to as Reykjavik-13, relating to Iceland’s financial crisis. Manning previously pleaded guilty to a lesser offense relating to the Reykjavik-13 cable – an offense carrying a maximum two-year prison term. The greater offense formerly sought by the prosecutors could have carried up to ten years in prison.
According to the Support Network’s website, Manning is accused of having leaked a video showing US soldiers killing unarmed civilians in Iraq, including a photographer for Reuters and his driver. He is further accused of having leaked a multitude of Army reports and diplomatic cables that – once published by Wikileaks – dealt a humiliating blow to the US government in terms of its military and diplomatic agendas.
Manning was quoted as having said of the leaks, “I believed and still believe these are some of most important documents of our time,” and then of having defended his decision to disclose on the basis of having wanted to ignite a domestic dialogue on America’s war on terror. In his view, the footage needed to be seen by the American public, as its government had become “obsessed with capturing and killing people.”
Speaking of the Iraq killing video, he reportedly described the footage as “similar to a child torturing ants [with] a magnifying glass.”
The Support Network further reported that before disclosing the documents to Wikileaks, Manning had tried to leak them to several other major US media outlet. While visiting the US at one point during a tour, he had tried to pass the documents along to the Washington Post – from whom he received a rejection for lack of corroborating information, the New York Times – from whom he didn’t even receive a response, and Politico – with whom he was apparently prevented from coordinating due to a blizzard. At that point, he opted for Wikileaks which, he emphasized in his statement, never pressured him to give information, thus taking full responsibility for the disclosures.
Nathan Fuller reported earlier that Manning pleaded guilty to: “having unauthorized possession of one classified Army intelligence agency memo, more than 20 classified CIDNE Iraq documents, more than 20 CIDNE Afghanistan documents, more than 5 classified documents regarding Farah, and a video (Collateral Murder). He’s also pleading guilty to willfully communicating those to an unauthorized person and that doing so was service discrediting to the Armed Forces and was prejudicial to the good order and discipline of the Armed Forces.”
He did not, however, plead guilty to those documents having related to national defense, or to having believed that their disclosure could harm the US or benefit a foreign nation, according to Fuller.