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Second only to Julian Assange, Bradley Manning is the most important figure in the Wikileaks controversy; his is alleged to have handed over hundreds of thousands of secret US war files and diplomatic cables. But, while the world watches Assange’s trial with baited breath, Manning is already wasting away in solitary confinement; this is the story of his daring intelligence heist. We hear the only recording of Bradley Manning’s voice and we listen to the logs of alleged conversations with the man who ultimately betrayed him.
Manning, a US army private, claims that he released the cables because, “I was actively involved in something I was completely against”. That is according to the Internet chat room logs that are the basis for his imprisonment. Manning’s exact relationship with Wikileaks remains unclear and the source that uncovered him to the US government has been called into question.
That source is Adrian Lamo. In an extraordinary interview he reveals how he came to know Bradley Manning, claiming the young soldier openly confessed to him his role in the WikiLeaks scandal. “I’m a high profile source … and I’ve developed a relationship with Assange”. Yet one of Lamo’s old friends Kevin Mitnick is suspicious of his evidence and his motives, “I call into question the authenticity of the chat logs, because I know his (Lamo) personality”.
Manning’s alleged emphasis on his relationship with Assange takes on greater importance as we explore the disputes that have erupted inside WikiLeaks. A former insider tells how he held deep reservations about Julian Assange’s determination to keep releasing material that might compromise his source. Yet when these accusations are put to the WikiLeaks boss he maintains to have not known Manning’s identity, “I never heard the name Bradley Manning before I saw media reports”.
There is little doubt America wants to punish Julian Assange and he, for his part, seems determined to persevere with his battle against the superpower. But to bring a case against him vital questions must be answered: How did Private Bradley Manning steal the classified material? How did he relay it to WikiLeaks? Did he do this of his own accord or did Julian Assange conspire with him to take the information? It all becomes even murkier when you take into account that the informant is an attention-seeking hacker of questionable morals.
Meanwhile Bradley Manning is wasting away in jail. David House is one of the few civilians allowed to visit him. He describes the young soldier’s mental deterioration and his struggle to deal with long hours of confinement, “…the US Government is just trying to put immense pressure on him in order to get him to crack open”.