The U.S. Army soldier suspected of being behind the biggest leak of classified U.S. documents in history is due to make his first court appearance to face charges that could send him to prison for life.
Private First Class Bradley Manning, 23, is scheduled to face a pretrial hearing on December 16 at Fort Meade, Maryland, near Washington.
The hearing is to determine whether he should face a court-martial trial.
Manning is suspected by U.S. authorities of illegally downloading hundreds of thousands of sensitive U.S. diplomatic cables that were eventually disclosed on the WikiLeaks website.
The WikiLeaks disclosures, which also have included classified U.S. files on the Iraq and Afghan wars, have been described by Pentagon officials as threatening U.S. national security.
Manning, who was arrested in May, 2010, allegedly downloaded the files while based in Iraq.
Manning's defense lawyer has argued that the release of the files has done little actual harm to U.S. interests.
Critics of the soldier accuse him of deliberately leaking secrets of the U.S. government.
In a separate development, also on December 16, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was granted permission to appeal against extradition to Sweden over rape allegations and a hearing will start on February 1.
compiled from agency reports