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Female soldier in abuse photos charged

She was following orders, family says

Pfc. Lynndie England points at a hooded and naked Iraqi prisoner at Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad.
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(CNN) -- Army Pfc. Lynndie England -- the woman seen smiling next to naked Iraqi prisoners in several photographs that have sparked outrage around the world -- was charged Friday by the military with assaulting Iraqi detainees and conspiring to mistreat them.

England is now the seventh soldier to be charged in the widening scandal.

She faces four charges: committing an indecent act; assaulting Iraqi detainees on multiple occasions; conspiring with Spc. Charles Graner to "maltreat Iraqi detainees" and committing acts "prejudicial to good order and discipline and were of nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces through her mistreatment of Iraqi detainees."

The charges must be taken up in an Article 32 investigation, a process similar to a civilian grand jury, before they can be sent to a general court-martial.

If the case is referred to court-martial and she is convicted, England may face official reprimand, forfeiture of pay or confinement, among other penalties.

England has returned from duty in Iraq and is based at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

A statement from the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg said a military attorney has yet to be appointed to represent her.

England is not in pretrial confinement and is still allowed to perform duties for the 16th Military Police Brigade, the statement said.

England and Graner are members of the 372nd Military Police Company, which was sent to Iraq to help guard Iraqi prisoners.

Attorney Roy G. Hardy, who appeared with family members Friday, said England is five months pregnant and that Graner is the father.

"She did have a relationship with him," Hardy said. He would not comment on the status of the couple now beyond saying, "There is a current relationship, although I don't think they get to spend much time together."

England's defenders called the news conference Friday to ask reporters to leave the family alone, and to offset public impressions left by the photos of England.

"We just want to make sure you guys realize she's a human being," Hardy said as several family photos were spread out on a table. The family pictures included one of England with a friend after a high school prom in 2001.

England featured prominently in several photos of Iraqi detainees being abused at Abu Ghraib prison.

One photo shows the 21-year-old reservist holding a leash attached to a prone prisoner's neck.

In another photo, England and Graner are shown smiling and making thumbs-up gestures as they stand near naked Iraqi prisoners.

"Certain people in the Army told her to do what she did. She follows orders," said her sister Jessica Klinestiver.

Asked why her sister would be smiling in such pictures, Klinestiver implied that England was merely posing, and "smiling at whoever's behind the camera."

None would discuss whether they knew who took the photos or why or how they were taken.

Hardy said England joined the Army Reserves to get money for college, and aspired to be a meteorologist.

"She was an administrative assistant and personnel clerk [with her unit]. That's all she's been trained in by the military," Hardy said.

Klinestiver and Goin repeatedly said they believed England was doing what someone else had told her to do when she posed for the pictures.

"She was asked to appear in the photos," Klinestiver said, without identifying who might have made such a request.

"She follows orders. That's what her job in the military is to do -- follow orders of her superior officers," Klinestiver said, adding that she is proud of her sister and "anybody else in the [372th]."

Klinestiver and Goin used words such as "good-hearted" to describe England and said publicity surrounding the photos is unfairly portraying her.

"She's a caring person," said Goin.

Hardy added, "You can't see everything in a photo. ... That's not the type of person she is. We think that when this all comes to light, she will not be depicted as she's being depicted now."

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