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Prosecutors link Pfc. Manning, Assange

Prosecutors link Pfc. Manning, Assange
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks to the media in London Jan. 11, 2011. UPI/Hugo Philpott | License Photo

FORT MEADE, Md., Dec. 23 (UPI) -- U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning chatted online with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while uploading documents to the Web site, military prosecutors said.

Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of leaking vast amounts of classified information to the site, received tips during the chat from Assange on decoding computer passwords to access secret Army computers using someone else's name, the prosecutors said Thursday, the Los Angeles Times reported.

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On the final day of Manning's hearing at Fort Meade, Md., prosecutors presented excerpts of the chat logs between Manning and Assange that they say were found on Manning's laptop in Iraq.

Jennifer Robinson, an Australian attorney representing Assange, was in the courtroom spectators gallery. She said in an interview the evidence "gives us a very clear indication … that the U.S. government intends to prosecute Julian Assange and potentially others associated with WikiLeaks."

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Robinson, who has not been allowed to review the chat logs, declined to comment on their content.

Prosecutors said the chat exchanges presented include one from March 8, 2010, during which Manning was uploading a compressed file of classified military assessments of terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, while the soldier was stationed at a base in Iraq.

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"I'm throwing everything I got on JTF-GTMO at you now. ... Should take a while to get up though," Manning allegedly wrote.

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"OK, great," replies Assange, using the name "Nathaniel Frank," prosecutors said. Later Assange allegedly asks, "ETA?"

David E. Coombs, Manning's attorney, said at the close of the seven-day pretrial hearing the government was being unduly harsh to try to pressure Manning into providing evidence against Assange.

Coombs argued the leaks have not hurt the United States, saying: "Why are we here when all of this information is out in the public? If anything, it has helped."

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Prosecutors showed a video of an al-Qaida operative in California saying WikiLeaks disclosures aided the group's cause. One prosecutor, Capt. Ashden Fein, said Manning knew making classified information public could help al-Qaida and other enemies.

Manning's backers say the release of the information has revealed misdeeds by the U.S. military and inspired the overthrow of corrupt regimes in the Mideast.

Coombs said 19 of the 22 charges against Manning should be dropped, including aiding the enemy, which can bring a life sentence.

The judge is to decide by Jan. 16 whether to recommend a court-martial, the Times said.

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