UPDATE: Private First Class Bradley Manning, accused of having provided hundreds of thousands of classified military documents and State Department cables to WikiLeaks, deferred entering a plea at his arraignment Thursday.
(FORT MEADE, Md.) — Accused “WikiLeaker” Bradley Manning’s arraignment is set to get underway Thursday in Maryland.
The formal presentation of charges comes after December’s week-long, pre-trial hearing in which the investigating officer who presided recommended that Manning face a military court, which was approved by Army Maj. Gen. Michael Linnington of the Military District of Washington.
Pfc. Manning is accused of providing online publisher WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified military action reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as 260,000 classified State Department cables when he served as an Army intelligence analyst in Baghdad in late 2009 to early 2010.
Manning will hear the 22 charges against him, including aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet knowing that it is accessible to the enemy, stealing public property or records, and transmitting defense information.
His lawyers have said he was a troubled soldier who should have never been given access to classified information.
Aiding the enemy is a capital offense punishable by death, but Army prosecutors have said they will instead pursue life in prison if the 24-year-old Manning is convicted.
Manning could also face a reduction in rank to the lowest enlisted pay grade, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances and a dishonorable discharge.
He will be allowed to enter a plea Thursday to the charges against him. The arraignment offers the possibility of a plea deal, although there has been no indication that such an plan is in the works.
A trial date has yet to be set.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Wayne Covil, WTVR
Robert Boyd, CNN