Criminal charges have been filed against a 22-year old Army private accussed of leaking classified video of an Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed a number of civilians to the Wikileaks.org website.
Private First Class Bradley Manning faces two charges and 12 counts of illegally providing classified information to an unauthorized source.
The charge sheet claims that PFC Manning unlawfully accessed the gun camera video of an Apache helicopter attack on July 12, 2007 against suspected insurgents killing an undetermined number of civilians. Then Manning allegedly passed that video onto Wikileaks, which is known for posting such controversial documents as the Army’s Guantánamo Bay procedures, Church of Scientology documents and contents from Sarah Palin’s e-mail account.
Wikileaks posted two versions of the now-infamous Baghdad airstrike video, a 39-minute unedited version and an annotated 18-minute version, on April 5, 2010. Titling it “Collateral Murder,” Wikileaks cited the video as evidence of a Pentagon coverup. Two Reuters employees and a Baghdad man were three of the more than a dozen killed during the attack. Two children were also seriously injured.
Manning is also charged with unlawfully tapping into the military's secret Internet protocol router network to obtain the video, and more than 200,000 classified State Department cables.
The Associated Press reported previously that former computer Hacker Adrian Lamo says that Manning claimed in a series of online chats that he downloaded 260,000 classified or sensitive State Department cables and transmitted them by computer to Wikileaks.
Manning remains in custody in Kuwait but will be returned to Baghdad shortly to face an Article 32 hearing, the military's equivalent of a grand jury hearing.