The Army private accused of providing a trove of secret documents to WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, was hit with another 22 charges yesterday:
The new charges included “aiding the enemy”; wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, knowing that it was accessible to the enemy; multiple counts of theft of public records, transmitting defense information and computer fraud. If he is convicted, Private Manning could be sentenced to life in prison.
Manning's lawyer, David Combs, tweeted that "aiding the enemy" was the "most significant" additional charge, as it carries with it the risk of the death penalty. While military prosecutors have recommended life in prison instead, "the presiding military judge would have the authority to dismiss the prosecution's recommendation and impose the death penalty," according to NBC.
WikiLeaks, meanwhile, reacted with disbelief to the news of the "aiding the enemy" charge (you can read the definition of the charge on Combs's website) in a series of tweets posted yesterday:
Capital charge 'aiding the enemy' is a vindictive attack on Manning for exercising his right to silence. No evidence of any such thing.
"'aiding the enemy', following US claims, suggests WikiLeaks will be defined as 'the enemy'. A serious abuse. http://is.gd/0XKqRz"
To be convicted of "aiding an enemy" US must prove alleged recipient @WikiLeaks, was "hostile body"
Based on statements, WikiLeaks, a publisher, is 'the enemy'. Sets a very dangerous precedent for all media.
WikiLeaks has always maintained that its role is no different than that of a newspaper or other media outlet that receives and then publishes secret information. Many legal scholars maintain that, under the law as it's written, they're right. So you have to wonder whether prosecutors are going to be able to make this charge stick.