THE US soldier linked to WikiLeaks has been charged with ‘aiding the enemy’, but prosecutors will not be seeking the death penalty.

The US Army has filed 22 additional charges against Private Bradley Manning, the soldier suspected of providing classified government documents to WikiLeaks.

Army officials said the charges accuse Manning of using unauthorised software on government computers to extract classified information, illegally download it and transmit the data for public release by what the army termed “the enemy”.

The charges follow seven months of Army investigation.

“The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Private 1st Class Manning is accused of committing,” said Captain John Haberland, a legal spokesman for the military district of Washington.

Aiding the enemy under the Uniform Code of Military Justice is a capital offence, but the army’s prosecution team has notified the Manning defence team that it will not recommend the death penalty.

In a written statement detailing the new charges, the army said that if Manning is convicted of all charges he would face life in prison.

Trial proceedings against Manning have been on hold since last July, pending the results of a medical inquiry into Manning’s mental capacity and responsibility. If that inquiry determines that he is mentally fit to be tried, the military equivalent of a grand jury proceeding may be held.

The army said Manning was personally notified of the additional charges yesterday. He is currently confined in the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, south of Washington.

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