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Report: No Proof Of A Link Between Pfc. Manning And Wikileaks

Efforts to prosecute Julian Assange or anyone else affiliated with Wikileaks in connection with Pfc. Bradley Manning’s apparent theft of thousands of classified documents may have been dealt a significant setback:

U.S. military officials tell NBC News that investigators have been unable to make any direct connection between a jailed army private suspected with leaking secret documents and Julian Assange, founder of the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks.

The officials say that while investigators have determined that Manning had allegedly unlawfully downloaded tens of thousands of documents onto his own computer and passed them to an unauthorized person, there is apparently no evidence he passed the files directly to Assange, or had any direct contact with the controversial WikiLeaks figure.

Assange, an Australian national, is under house arrest at a British mansion near London, facing a Swedish warrant seeking his extradition for questioning on charges of rape. Assange has denied the allegations.

WikiLeaks’ release of secret diplomatic cables last year caused a diplomatic stir and laid bear some of the most sensitive U.S. dealings with governments around the world. It also prompted an American effort to stifle WikiLeaks by pressuring financial institutions to cut off the flow of money to the organization.

U.S. Attorney General Eric holder has said his department is also considering whether it can prosecute the release of information under the Espionage Act.

Assange told msnbc TV last month that WikiLeaks was unsure Army PFC Bradley Manning is the source for the classified documents appearing on his site.

“That’s not how our technology works, that’s not how our organization works,” Assange said. “I never heard of the name of Bradley Manning before it appeared in the media.”

Absent proof that Assange or others affiliated with Wikileaks had direct contact with Manning and assisted him in some way in removing the documents, it seems doubtful that the U.S. would ever be able to successfully prosecute them (as opposed to Manning), which is what I’ve suspected all along.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    And considering the legal precedent set by the “Pentagon Papers” case, they probably wouldn’t be able to prosecute Wikileaks anyway.

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  2. jpe says:

    @ Patrick: the Pentagon Papers court held that we can’t stop publication; it didn’t deal w/ post-publication prosecution, and several (4 or 5, IIRC) of the justices noted that we could prosecute after the fact even if we couldn’t stop publication.

    (first version of this comment was caught by the spam filter)

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