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WikiLeaks’ alleged source fades into the background

Bradley Manning, the young US soldier who is alleged to be the source of the WikiLeaks documents, faces a 52 year prison sentence if convicted.

The 23-year old former army intelligence analyst has been held in solitary confinement at a US marine base in Virginia. His tiny prison cell has no pillow or sheets on the bed and is said to be in a weak condition and fragile mental state due to worry about the prison sentence.

However, the fate of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is very much in the young soldier’s hands. US sources suggest  attorney general Eric Holder is about to give a decision on a plea bargain to be offered to Manning in return for incriminating Assange. US prosecutors are aware a conviction will be almost impossible if there is no proof of Assange’s being anything but a passive recipient of the documents.

Private Manning’s friends state he has so far refused any cooperation with the prosecutors, but are concerned for his physical and mental health after seven months in solitary. Mr Assange denies ever hearing the name Manning before its publication in the media, let alone being in contact with him.

He added WikiLeaks’ technology was set up in such a way that personal details and identities of those who provided material via the internet could not be known. Anonymity of sources, he said, was an essential part of the programme. However, Adrian Lamo, the hacker who blew the whistle on Manning to the authorities, ahs informed the FBI that the young soldier was given an encrypted conferencing facility by Assange as well as a dedicated server.

According to Lamo, Manning boasted about the facilities he’d been given, saying he had developed a ‘relationship’ with Assange. Authorities have stated Manning’s confinement in solitary is for his own safety, but David House, a computer programmer friend who has been visiting Manning in prison said last week he believed the conditions under which he is being held are intended as a punishment.

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