FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - The soldier accused of the largest release of classified data in U.S. history provided WikiLeaks with secret details of prisoners held at Guantanamo Bay, threatening “serious” damage to national security, the prison’s former commander testified on Monday.
Data released by Private First Class Bradley Manning included biographical material on Guantanamo prisoners, details of their religious affiliation, and names of their relatives with extremist links, Rear Admiral David Woods, who ran the Guantanamo operation in 2011 and 2012, told Manning’s court martial.
Manning, 25, is in the third week of his court-martial for allegedly providing the WikiLeaks anti-secrecy website with more than 700,000 files, videos and other data, including documents from classified military databases in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the prisoner files.
Woods said in a statement read into the court record that he had reviewed five assessments of detainees released by Manning.
Vice Admiral Robert Harward, the deputy commander for the Central Command, which covers the Middle East and Afghanistan, testified that he had reviewed about 120 leaked documents, including material about a 2009 airstrike in Afghanistan that killed dozens of civilians.
The files “contained information that if released, reasonably could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security of the United States,” Harward said in a statement read into the record.
Manning was a junior intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010 when WikiLeaks published the classified information. He faces 21 charges, the most serious being aiding the enemy, and faces life in prison without parole if convicted.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the past year to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange, an Australian, denies the allegations.
The United States set up the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to hold foreign terrorism suspects after U.S.-led forces invaded Afghanistan in pursuit the al Qaeda network behind the September 11 attacks in 2001.
Writing by Ian Simpson; Editing by Scott Malone and David Brunnstrom