Tech experts on stand in Manning's WikiLeaks court-martial

June 4, 2013 at 2:58 PM
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FORT MEADE, Md., June 4 (UPI) -- In Day 2 of Pfc. Bradley Manning's court-martial, a computer expert said he found information linking the U.S. soldier to WikiLeaks on a computer hard drive.

In testimony Tuesday, prosecutors called two military forensic computer analysts. One of them, Mark Johnson, said he examined hard drives and other electronic devices Manning used. Johnson said one external hard drive located in Manning's bunk area had contact information for WikiLeaks dating back to 2009, a year before the documents became public.

Additionally, Johnson said he found no computer evidence Manning was a terrorist sympathizer, that he received any unusual money transfers related to the security breach or that he hated America, The New York Times reported.

Johnson and the other computer analyst, David Shaver, are expected to return to testify at several intervals during the court-martial at Fort Meade, Md.

Next up on the prosecution's witness list was Adrian Lamo, the former computer hacker who alerted federal authorities Manning was the likely source of the WikiLeaks scandal.

In opening statements Monday, prosecutors said Manning knowingly put his fellow soldiers at risk in the largest security breach in U.S. military history.

Manning's defense lawyer described the troubled 25-year-old as naive but well-intentioned -- a young man who, in collecting and passing hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents online to the whistle-blower organization WikiLeaks -- was "hoping to make the world a better place," The Baltimore Sun reported.

An intelligence analyst for the Army in Iraq in 2009 and 2010, Manning has admitted passing the documents off to the website, which he knew in turn would publish them online for all the world to see. Among the most sensitive documents was a helicopter gun-sight video taken over Baghdad in 2007 that showed civilian casualties. Other diplomatic cables included frank assessments of world figures that badly embarrassed the State Department.

David E. Coombs, the lead attorney on Manning's three-member defense team, said during opening statements his client was deployed to Iraq where he and members of his unit saw a vehicle of Iraqi civilians blown up by a roadside bomb. Members of his unit celebrated having been missed by the bomb but Coombs said the incident changed Manning -- and led him to begin leaking documents he thought would help the general public understand what was truly happening in the war.

Prosecutors said Manning "used his military training to gain the notoriety he craved."

Manning confessed to nine of the lesser charges against him in February but military prosecutors have pressed ahead with the trial because those charges only carry a 20-year sentence. The more serious charges -- related to much of the same evidence Manning mentioned in his previous confession -- carry a life sentence.

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