New York Times
BAGHDAD - An American soldier in Iraq who was arrested on charges of leaking a video of a deadly U.S. helicopter attack in 2007 has also been charged with downloading more than 150,000 highly classified diplomatic cables that could, if made public, reveal the inner workings of U.S. embassies around the world, the military announced Tuesday in Iraq.
The full contents of the cables remain unclear, but according to formal charges filed Monday, it appeared Army Pfc. Bradley E. Manning, working at a remote base east of Baghdad, had gathered some of the most guarded, if not always scandalous, secrets of U.S. diplomacy. He disclosed at least 50 of the cables "to a person not entitled to receive them," according to the charges.
With the charges, a case that stemmed from the furor over a graphic and fiercely contested video of an attack from a U.S. helicopter that killed 12 people, including a reporter and a driver for Reuters, mushroomed into a far more extensive and potentially embarrassing leak.
The charges cited only one cable by name, "Reykjavik 13," which appeared to be one made public by WikiLeaks.org, a whistle-blowing website devoted to disclosing the secrets of governments and corporations.
The website decoded and in April made public an edited version of the helicopter attack in a film it called "Collateral Murder."
In the cable, dated Jan. 13, the U.S. deputy chief of mission, Sam Watson, detailed private discussions he held with Iceland's leaders over a referendum on whether to repay losses from a bank failure, including a frank assessment that Iceland could default in 2011.
WikiLeaks, which reportedly operated in Iceland for a time, disclosed a second cable from the nation in March profiling its leaders, including Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir.
WikiLeaks has not acknowledged receiving the cables or video from Manning, 22, who worked as an analyst and whose case has been the subject of vigorous debate between defenders and critics. Manning, who served with the 2nd Brigade of the 10th Mountain Division, based at Contingency Operating Station Hammer, was arrested in May and transferred to a military detention center in Kuwait after military authorities said he had revealed his activities in online chats with a former computer hacker, who turned him in to the authorities.
Manning, from Potomac, Md., now faces an Article 32 investigation, the military's equivalent of a civilian grand jury, into charges that he mishandled classified information "with reason to believe the information could cause injury to the United States."
If convicted on all charges, he could be sentenced to a maximum 52 years in prison.