US prosecutors link Manning to WikiLeaks’ Assange

FORT MEADE, MD (Reuters) – Military prosecutors sought to link US Army intelligence analyst Bradley Manning directly to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange yesterday at a hearing to determine whether Manning will be court-martialled in the biggest leak of classified documents in American history.

Computer forensic investigators Mark Johnson and David Shaver told the hearing they had found logs from an online chat between Manning’s account and an account which at one point was alleged to be connected to Assange. The logs discussed sending and receiving US government information.

Asked if Manning and Assange seemed to know each other, Johnson said they did. “At some point I believe they talked about: ‘Did you receive information?’ Where would that come from if they hadn’t known each other in the past,” Johnson said.

The 24-year-old Manning is suspected of downloading thousands of classified or confidential documents from the military’s Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, or SIPRNet. Those files are thought to have later appeared on WikiLeaks.

Yesterday, the government completed the fourth day of a hearing to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to court martial Manning on 22 charges, which include aiding the enemy and unlawfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet. Manning faces life imprisonment if convicted of the most serious charge.

Prosecutors have portrayed Manning as a well-trained soldier adept at computers who violated his duties. Manning’s defence lawyers have presented evidence he was emotionally troubled and have questioned why he was not relieved of his intelligence duties sooner.

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