US soldier in WikiLeaks case, Bradley Manning, seeks lesser charges

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 November, 2012, 3:00am

The US Army private facing a court martial for allegedly leaking secret documents to the WikiLeaks website has offered to plead guilty to less serious offences, his lawyer said.

In a blog post, David Coombs, the lawyer for accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, said Manning was not pleading guilty to charges filed against him by military prosecutors. The private faces life imprisonment if convicted of the charges.

Those include stealing records belonging to the United States and wrongfully causing them to be published on the internet and aiding enemies of the United States, identified by prosecutors as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Instead, Manning is now "attempting to accept responsibility for offences that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offences," Coombs wrote. He said it was up to the military court hearing Manning's case to decide if it would be "permissible" for the soldier to take such action.

Coombs said the court had discretion to permit such a plea without the agreement of prosecutors. But even if the court agrees, the government could still pursue the more serious charges, Coombs wrote.

Nathan Fuller, spokesman for the Bradley Manning Support Network, an activist group, said it would be "very premature" to conclude that a plea bargain deal would ultimately be struck.