The U.S. military says it has charged a soldier in connection with the leak of a classified video showing a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuters journalists. Army Specialist Bradley Manning, 22, was charged with two criminal counts including allegations he disclosed classified national defence information, exceeded his authorised access to U.S. computers and transferred classified data onto his personal computer, the military said in a statement.
The charges were brought under the military code of justice and could result in a trial by court-martial. Manning, of Potomac, Maryland, was deployed to Baghdad and was held in pre-trial confinement in Kuwait, U.S. officials said when they announced a month ago that he had been detained. Reuters reports
The gunsight video, which shows an attack by a U.S. Apache helicopter on a group of men in a square in Baghdad, was made public in April by WikiLeaks, a group that promotes the leaking of information to fight government and corporate corruption.
Among those killed in the attack were Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver, Saeed Chmagh, 40.
Wired magazine initially reported Manning’s arrest and described him as an intelligence analyst who came under suspicion after he told a former hacker during an email exchange that he had leaked the video. The magazine said Manning had also claimed to have leaked other classified information, including video of a 2009 bombing in Afghanistan that killed dozens of civilians, and 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables.
The U.S. military statement on Manning’s arrest did not specify what leaked information had led to the charges. The video of the Baghdad helicopter attack showed an aerial view of men moving through a square in Baghdad. The helicopter opened fire, killing several people and wounding others.
A military spokesman said the helicopter crew mistook a camera for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. Later the video showed the helicopter opening fire again on a van carrying unarmed civilians who tried to help the wounded.
WikiLeaks said at the time it had obtained the video from military whistleblowers and had been able to view and investigate it after breaking an encryption code.
Manning was deployed with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.