Washington: Suspected Wikileaks informer was on Thursday slapped with 22 new charges. Bradley Manning, a soldier arrested last year in Iraq and suspected of passing classified information to whistleblower website WikiLeaks was charged by the US Army.

Manning is charged with aiding and giving intelligence to the enemy, a significant escalation of the government's prosecution of the junior intelligence analyst.

After seven months of additional investigation, the new charges against Manning allege that he introduced unauthorised software onto government computers to extract classified information, unlawfully downloaded it, improperly stored it, and transmitted the classified data for public release and use by the enemy.

The charges do not mention WikiLeaks by name.

"The new charges more accurately reflect the broad scope of the crimes that Private First Class Manning is accused of committing," said Captain John Haberland, a legal spokesman for US Army Military District of Washington.

"The new charges will not affect Private First Class Manning's right to a speedy trial or his pretrial confinement," he said.

US military officials in Baghdad preferred two charges consisting of 12 specifications against Manning on July 5.

Officials said the commander of Army Headquarters Command Battalion preferred the new charges on Wednesday.

Although the charge of aiding the enemy is a capital offense, a Defense Department press release said the prosecution team has notified the defense that the prosecution will not recommend the death penalty to the convening authority.

If convicted of all charges, Manning would face a maximum punishment of reduction to the lowest enlisted pay grade, total forfeiture of all pay and allowances, confinement for life, and a dishonorable discharge.

Manning, who remains confined at a marine base in Virginia, was notified of the additional charges in person during a command visit on Wednesday.

(Agencies)