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US soldier charged for leaking video showing US army war crime

US soldier charged for leaking video showing US army war crime
This image captured from a classified US military video footage shows a wounded Iraqi person being loaded onto a van during a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff on July 12, 2007, and released to Reuters on April 5, 2010 by WikiLeaks, a group that promotes leaking to fight government and corporate corruption. Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his assistant and driver Saeed Chmagh, 40, were killed in the incident. The helicopter initially opens fire on the small group. Minutes later a van comes by, and starts assisting the wounded, and the helicopter opens fire on the van.

Bradley Manning, a 22-year-old US army intelligence analyst, was charged on Tuesday with leaking a video of a US army helicopter attack in Baghdad in July 2007 in which two employees of the Reuters news agency were killed. Currently held in a US military detention centre in Kuwait, he is accused of divulging confidential information, a US army release said.

Posted on the Wikileaks website on April 5, 2010, the video shows the helicopter crew killing 12 civilians including Reuters photographer Namir Noor-Eldeen, 22, and his driver Said Chmagh, 40. When posting the video on its site, Wikileaks said it had come from unspecified “military sources.”

Reuters filed a formal request in 2007 for access to documents that would explain the death of its employees. It did so under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which obliges federal government agencies to release documents to all persons requesting them unless specifically exempted by the law. Reuters did not however obtain any documents.

The charging of Manning, who holds the rank of private, comes just a few days after defence secretary Robert Manning circulated a memo to senior officers and civilians within the defence department saying they had “grown lax” in their relations with the media. Manning’s plight revives the debate about the Pentagon’s perceived lack of transparency and highlights the problem for the authorities of complying with the FOIA.

“If this young soldier had not leaked the video, we would have had no evidence of what was clearly a serious abuse on the part of the US military,” Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) said. “Respect for military regulations should not be at the Freedom of Information Act’s expense. The US defence department should not hide behind rules in order to openly practice acts of censorship and thereby deny the public’s fundamental right of access to information.”

The Freedom of Information Act was adopted in 1966 in response to a public desire during the Vietnam War for access to US government documents, without any exception. Many restrictions were applied during the Reagan presidency, especially as a result of misuse of Exemption No 1, concerning national security.

“We hope the Obama administration will not violate the law in a similar manner and will display more honesty and transparency when it comes to respecting the right of access to information, a fundamental right of every individual in a society that claims to be democratic,” Paris-based added.

Date posted: July 9, 2010 Last modified: May 23, 2018 Total views: 172