US soldier faces court martial over leaked data

A UNITED States soldier accused of feeding a trove of classified documents to Wikileaks looks set to stand trial after a military judge recommended he be court-martialled.

Bradley Manning has been indicted on 22 counts relating to the largest leak of confidential data in US history, including charges of aiding the enemy. The crime carries a maximum penalty of death, although prosecutors have indicated they will not seek that punishment.

Manning, 24, is accused of handing over hundreds of thousands of confidential army and department of state documents to the whistle-blowing website.

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During a preliminary hearing last month, a military court heard the low-ranking intelligence analyst “indiscriminately and systematically” harvested sensitive data after being deployed to Iraq in 2009.

“Manning gave the enemy of the United States unfettered access to classified documents,” army prosecutor Ashden Fein said.

Defence lawyer David Coombs countered that the unit Manning served in was “lawless” when it came to security checks.

The 22 counts against Manning carry a maximum prison sentence of 150 years.

Supporters of Manning dismissed the proceedings as a “show trial”.