A US soldier suspected of leaking video footage of a US Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad in which two Reuters news agency employees were killed faces two charges of misconduct, the US military said on Tuesday.
AFP - An American soldier suspected of leaking video footage of a US Apache helicopter strike in Baghdad that killed two employees of the Reuters news agency has been charged, the military said on Tuesday.
Private First Class Bradley E. Manning, held in a military jail in Kuwait since last month in connection with the July 2007 attack, faces two charges of misconduct, said a statement released by the US army in Baghdad.
The first charge is for violating army regulations by "transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorised software to a classified computer system," the statement said.
WikiLeaks, a whistleblowing website, released in April the video that showed the Reuters employees being gunned down by the US helicopter three years ago.
Manning, 22, is accused in a second charge of "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defence information to an unauthorised source."
WikiLeaks at the time said it obtained the video "from a number of military whistleblowers" and decrypted it. It posted the video at collateralmurder.org.
The gun camera footage included audio conversations between Apache pilots and controllers in which they identified the men in on a Baghdad street as armed insurgents and asked for permission to open fire.
Two of the men were later identified as Reuters employees Namir Noor-Eldeen and Saeed Chmagh.
At least two individuals in the video seemed to be carrying weapons but most were unarmed. The Apache pilots also appeared to mistake a camera carried by one of the Reuters employees as a rocket-propelled grenade launcher or RPG.
At one point, the Apache pilots told controllers they had spotted "five to six individuals with AK-47s" and asked for permission to "engage."
The Apache pilots then opened fire with the helicopter's cannon, with one of them then saying there are a "bunch of bodies lying there."
"Look at those dead bastards," one said in the recording, to which another replied: "Nice."
Shortly after the initial shooting, a van arrived to pick up the dead and wounded and it was fired upon by the Apaches. Two children in the van were injured and later evacuated by US ground troops.
A US military official in April did not dispute the authenticity of the video but said it "doesn't give new information, it just gives footage."
"We had insurgents and reporters in an area where US forces were about to be ambushed," the official added.
"At the time we weren't able to discern whether (the Reuters employees) were carrying cameras or weapons."
Date created : 2010-07-06