Did Julian Assange Help Bradley Manning Steal the U.S. State Department Cables?
UPDATE: An article in The New York Times (12-15-10) about Julian Assanges alleged relationship with Bradley Manning has made an important correction:
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: December 31, 2010
An article on Dec. 16 about the possibility of prosecuting Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, after his Web site disclosed classified government documents referred incorrectly to Wired magazine’s publishing of excerpts of Internet chat logs that may be relevant to the investigation. The excerpts, recording online conversations between the main suspect in the leaks, Pvt. Bradley Manning, and an ex-hacker who turned him in, Adrian Lamo, do in fact contain references to communications between Mr. Assange and Private Manning, and to a server for uploading files to WikiLeaks. It is not the case that Wired’s excerpts omitted mention of such contacts.
The New York Times (12-15-10) initially reported:
Justice Department officials are trying to find out whether Mr. Assange encouraged or even helped the analyst, Pfc. Bradley Manning, to extract classified military and State Department files from a government computer system. If he did so, they believe they could charge him as a conspirator in the leak, not just as a passive recipient of the documents who then published them.
Among materials prosecutors are studying is an online chat log in which Private Manning is said to claim that he had been directly communicating with Mr. Assange using an encrypted Internet conferencing service as the soldier was downloading government files. Private Manning is also said to have claimed that Mr. Assange gave him access to a dedicated server for uploading some of them to WikiLeaks.
Adrian Lamo, an ex-hacker in whom Private Manning confided and who eventually turned him in, said Private Manning detailed those interactions in instant-message conversations with him.
He said the special server’s purpose was to allow Private Manning’s submissions to “be bumped to the top of the queue for review.” By Mr. Lamo’s account, Private Manning bragged about this “as evidence of his status as the high-profile source for WikiLeaks.”
Wired magazine has published excerpts from logs of online chats between Mr. Lamo and Private Manning. But the sections in which Private Manning is said to detail contacts with Mr. Assange are not among them. Mr. Lamo described them from memory in an interview with The Times, but he said he could not provide the full chat transcript because the F.B.I. had taken his hard drive, on which it was saved.
Since WikiLeaks began making public large caches of classified United States government documents this year, Justice Department officials have been struggling to come up with a way to charge Mr. Assange with a crime. Among other things, they have studied several statutes that criminalize the dissemination of restricted information under certain circumstances, including the Espionage Act of 1917 and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986. [See the full redacted text.]
Creepy libertarian poster-boy Adrian Assange is wearing a GPS on his ankle and living at Ellingham Hall, a mansion in East Anglia.
The U.K. Independent (12-17-10) reports:
Norfolk Police would not discuss whether police would be posted around Ellingham Hall for Mr Assange's protection and to check on his whereabouts.
Assange's location is kind of interesting because the "Climategate" e-mails were stolen from the Climatic Research Center (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA), and the Norfolk Constabulary are investigating the data-breach at the UEA.
Since Julian Assange claims on Youtube that he released more than 10 years of the "Climategate" e-mails, I wonder if Assange's present quarters are more than a coincidence. Maybe the Norfolk Constabulary are asking Assange about the data-breach at the Climatic Research Center (CRU) at the University of East Anglia.
The U.K. Independent (12-17-10) reports:
American officials view persuading Pte Manning to give evidence that Mr Assange encouraged him to disseminate classified Pentagon and State Department files as crucial to any prospect of extraditing him for a successful prosecution. To facilitate that, Pte Manning may be moved from military to civilian custody, they say. Since being charged in July with disseminating a US military video showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters that killed 17 people in Iraq including two Reuters employees, the soldier has been held at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia. But members of his support network insist that he has not co-operated with the authorities since his arrest in May.
The Justice Department views the chances of a prosecution as far slimmer if Mr Assange was merely the passive recipient of information. But Adrian Lamo, a former hacker who had been in contact with Pte Manning and eventually turned him in to the government, is said to have told the FBI that Mr Assange had given the young soldier an encrypted internet conferencing service as he was downloading government files and a dedicated server for uploading them to WikiLeaks...
WikiLeaks appears to be aware of the danger if it is proved to be involved in a conspiracy to leak material. It has deleted from its website the claim that "Submitting confidential material to Wiki-Leaks is safe, easy and protected by law". The site now says: "Submitting documents to our journalists is protected by law in better democracies." It also now says: "WikiLeaks accepts a range of material, but we do not solicit it." Furthermore, it no longer says it welcomes "classified" material. [Read the full text.]