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US WikiLeaks Informant Formally Charged

Army Private First Class Bradley Manning - a low-ranking intelligence analyst charged in the biggest leak of classified information in US history - is escorted from a courthouse in Fort Meade, Maryland, December 22, 2011.

The U.S. Army intelligence analyst accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks has been formally charged with 22 counts, the most serious of which is "aiding the enemy."

Bradley Manning appeared at his arraignment at Fort Meade, near Baltimore, Maryland. A trial date has not been set.

Manning appeared at a preliminary hearing in December. Experts for the prosecution testified they found evidence Manning downloaded diplomatic cables onto compact discs that were sent to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

Manning's lawyers have described their client as a troubled man who should not have been allowed access to classified material while serving in Iraq between November 2009 and May 2010. His attorneys also said the military's oversight of its computers was lax.

Manning could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty.

The leaked diplomatic cables and military reports, published by WikiLeaks starting in July 2010, infuriated the international community, often providing blunt and unflattering U.S. views of world leaders' private and public lives.

U.S. officials say WikiLeaks publication of the stolen documents put lives in danger, threatened national security and undermined American efforts to work with other countries.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.