No link between Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, say military sources
NBC News reports no collusion between Bradley Manning and Julian Assange of WikiLeaks, according to military sources
25 January 2011
US investigators have been unable to find evidence directly linking WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and Bradley Manning, the army private suspected of passing on confidential documents to the whistleblowing website, according to a report last night.
Jim Miklaszewski, NBC News’s chief Pentagon correspondent, reported sources inside the US military as saying they could detect no contact between Manning and Assange.
According to NBC News:
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.
If accurate, then US authorities have no realistic chance of successfully prosecuting or extraditing Assange for the leak of thousands of classified documents.
NBC also reported that the commander of Manning’s military jail at the Quantico US Marine base exceeded his authority in placing the private on suicide watch last week, and that army lawyers had the restrictions removed:
Military officials said Brig Commander James Averhart did not have the authority to place Manning on suicide watch for two days last week, and that only medical personnel are allowed to make that call.
The official said that after Manning had allegedly failed to follow orders from his Marine guards. Averhart declared Manning a “suicide risk.” Manning was then placed on suicide watch, which meant he was confined to his cell, stripped of most of his clothing and deprived of his reading glasses — anything that Manning could use to harm himself. At the urging of US Army lawyers, Averhart lifted the suicide watch.
Manning remains in solitary confinement in his cell for 23 hours each day, with only one hour for exercise and one hour watching television.
Manning’s treatment has attracted criticism from human rights watchdog Amnesty International, which describes his conditions as “inhumane”:
Manning is classed as a “maximum custody” detainee, despite having no history of violence or disciplinary offences in custody. This means he is shackled at the hands and legs during all visits and denied opportunities to work, which would allow him to leave his cell.
ABC’s Jake Tapper raised questions about Manning’s treatment during Monday’s press briefing with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs:
Jake Tapper, ABC: A quick question about Bradley Manning, suspected of leaking information. Is the administration satisfied that he’s being kept in conditions that are appropriate for his accused crime and that visitors to Bradley Manning are treated as any visitors to any prison are treated?
Robert Gibbs: I haven’t, you know, truthfully, Jake, have not heard a lot of discussion on that inside of here. I’m happy to take a look at something. In terms of a specific question about that, I think that I would direct you to the authorities that are holding him.