09/11/2012 04:59 GMT | Updated 09/11/2012 05:23 GMT

Bradley Manning To Plead Guilty To Lesser Charges In WikiLeaks Trial

Bradley Manning, the alleged source of the high-level security breach to whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, has offered to plead guilty to a lesser charge, according to his legal counsel.

The private in the US Army faces 22 charges, including aiding al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and espionage.

Manning faces life in prison if found guilty.

bradley manning

Manning (right) escorted out of a courthouse in Fort Meade in June

At a pretrial hearing before his court martial in Maryland, David Coombs, the 24-year-old’s lawyer, said Manning will not plead guilty to aiding the enemies of the United States, but will admit to leaking secret documents, including diplomatic cables pertaining to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is alleged that Manning was the source of the video released to WikiLeaks that showed a US helicopter gunship firing on Iraqis. The website quickly found global fame on the back of the clip, along with the publication of a tranche of highly sensitive documents from US operations overseas.

In a blog post published by Coombs, the lawyer stressed that Manning would "accept responsibility for offences that are encapsulated within, or are a subset of, the charged offences," suggesting he would not plead guilty to the more serious charges levied.

Even if Manning pleads guilty to the lesser charges, the court could dismiss the legal manoeuvring and push ahead to secure a conviction for the more serious offences.

Manning’s new plea is scheduled to be heard on the 10 December, with the full trial due to start in early February.

The private has been incarcerated at Fort Leavenworth since May 2010.