ARLINGTON, VA. — A soldier with 10th Mountain Division has been taken into custody, suspected of “releasing classified information,” including much-publicized video of an Apache gunship attacking Reuters correspondents, officials said.
Spc. Bradley Manning, 22, of Potomac, Md., is in pre-trial custody in Kuwait, a U.S. Forces-Iraq news release said.
Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman confirmed Monday that Manning is suspected of providing classified information to Wikileaks, a muckraking website.
In April, Wikileaks posted video showing an Apache helicopter shooting and killing a Reuters photographer and his driver after they were mistaken for insurgents setting up an ambush for U.S. troops. Two young children were also wounded in the attack when their van was fired upon.
Wikileaks gave the video the title “Collateral Murder,” and the pilots can be heard making dehumanizing comments such as, “Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards.”
But an investigation report noted that the Reuters journalists were among armed insurgents, and “there was neither reason nor probability to assume that neutral media personnel were embedded with enemy forces.”
Defense Secretary Robert Gates later said the video did not show the “broader picture” of what happened.
“It’s painful to see, especially when you learn after the fact what was going on,” he said in April. “These people were operating in split-second situations. And, you know, we’ve investigate it very thoroughly. It’s very unfortunate.”
Wired magazine reported that Manning also sent Wikileaks a video of a 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan that killed about 26 civilians, an Army document that calls Wikileaks a security threat, and “260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables” that Manning claims describe “almost criminal political back dealings.”
Wikileaks spokesman Julian Assange said his group does not have 260,000 classified cables. He added that Wikileaks does “not keep personally identifying information” on its sources.
“If Mr. Manning is indeed the source for the ‘Collateral Murder’ video, which depicts a gratuitous attack by an Apache helicopter on a van [carrying] unarmed people helping a wounded Reuters reporter, among other slayings, and which were the subject of a Pentagon coverup, no praise can be too high for this brave soldier,” Assange said in an e-mail.