A ONE-TIME computer hacker who told authorities that a US soldier was giving information to WikiLeaks has testified that the army private never said he wanted to help the enemy during their online chats.
Bradley Manning is on trial for giving hundreds of thousands of documents to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks – by far the biggest release of classified material in US history.
The 25-year-old pleaded guilty to charges that could bring him 20 years behind bars in court in Fort Meade, Maryland. The military has pressed ahead with a court-martial on more serious charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a potential life sentence.
The material WikiLeaks began publishing in 2010 documented complaints of abuse against Iraqi detainees, a US tally of civilian deaths in Iraq, and America’s weak support for the government of Tunisia – a disclosure that Manning supporters said helped trigger the Middle Eastern pro-democracy uprisings known as the Arab Spring. The Obama administration has said the release of the material threatened to expose valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America’s relations with other governments.
Adrian Lamo, a convicted hacker, said he started chatting online with Manning on 20 May 2010, and alerted law enforcement the next day about the contents of the soldier’s messages, including his mention of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
He said he continued chatting with Manning on and off for six more days.
On cross-examination, Mr Lamo said Manning never told him he wanted to help the enemy and did not express disloyalty to America.
Federal authorities are looking into whether Mr Assange can also be prosecuted.
“This is not justice; never could this be justice,” Mr Assange said on Monday.