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Net tightens around Bradley Manning in WikiLeaks probe

A young military intelligence analyst stands accused of being the “deep throat” behind the enormous leak of classified military documents on the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks website. The site and the US government are now on a collision course.

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Bradley Manning is on his way to becoming the number one suspect in the leak of more than 91,000 secret documents on the war in Afghanistan.

The US army intelligence analyst – who had already been accused of leaking army footage to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks earlier this year – has been transferred from Kuwait to the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia, to be interrogated. An anonymous source close to the case told the Wall Street Journal on Thursday that traces of the secret files had been found on the 22-year-old’s computer.
 

An ideal suspect

In May, Manning was arrested for sending WikiLeaks a video – dubbed “Collateral Murder” – illustrating a US assault in Iraq in 2007 that resulted in several civilian deaths. A hacker with whom Manning had been in contact over the internet turned him in to the authorities. He was detained in Kuwait.

Manning has now further been accused of being behind the devastating leak of classified military documents on the Afghan war that has been splashed all over the world’s front pages. The hacker’s testimony was once again crucial in implicating Manning in the leak of the 91,000 classified documents. He explained that the young military intelligence analyst had official access to a large amount of confidential documents.

Ever since WikiLeaks published the leaked documents on Sunday, the US army and intelligence services have been working to find the “deep throat”. US Defence Secretary Robert Gates emphasised on Thursday that the US was “aggressively [investigating] the leak”. He also called in the FBI for reinforcements.

WikiLeaks strikes back

WikiLeaks, for its part, says it did not know the identity of its source. According to founder Julian Assange, the system of document submission on the site guarantees absolute anonymity. He also said that these precautions are in large part behind the site’s success, because they earn the trust of the source.

Since the mammoth leak, WikiLeaks has been under a continuous barrage of criticism from the US and Afghan authorities. According to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, Sunday’s revelations “put civilian lives in danger”. Karzai on Thursday deplored the fact that names of Afghan informants appeared on several documents that were made public. Robert Gates seemed to agree with Karzai, affirming that Julian Assange’s site had “blood on its hands”.

WikiLeaks took to Twitter to respond to the attacks on Friday. “Gates, who killed thousands in Iraq, Afg, and Iran-Contra [sic], says we might have 'blood on our hands'”, one of the site’s administrators tweeted sarcastically.

 

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