Q+A: WikiLeaks and suspect Bradley Manning

WASHINGTON Mon Nov 29, 2010 7:25pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Bradley Manning, a 23-year-old former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, is at the center of a U.S. investigation into the source of a series document dumps by whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks this year, U.S. officials say on the condition of anonymity.

WikiLeaks' latest release of more than 250,000 diplomatic cables exposing candid and embarrassing assessments of world leaders followed the release of 500,000 classified U.S. files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. officials decline to speak openly about Manning because of the ongoing investigation into the biggest series of leaks in U.S. history. But here are some questions and answers about the suspect:

WHERE IS BRADLEY MANNING?

Manning is detained at Quantico Marine Base in Virginia after being charged in July with improperly obtaining a classified video showing a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Iraq, including two Reuters journalists.

That video was released by WikiLeaks in April.

He was also charged with downloading more than 150,000 U.S. State Department documents, and leaking at least some cables, while he working with the intelligence operation of the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade in Iraq.

U.S. officials have declined to say whether those cables are the same ones now being released by WikiLeaks.

HOW WAS HE CAUGHT

He bragged about his exploits with former hacker Adrian Lamo, who then turned him into the authorities, Lamo told Reuters. Manning was promptly seized by the Army and detained in Kuwait before being transferred back to the United States.

HOW DID HE DO IT?

Manning, in an Internet chat with Lamo, said he would come into work with music on a recordable CD labeled "something like 'Lady Gaga'" then erase the music and download the data from the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network, known as SIPRNet.

Manning said he "listened and lip-synced to Lady Gaga's Telephone while exfiltratrating possibly the largest data spillage in (A)merican history," according to a transcript of his Internet chats with Lamo, the details of which were confirmed by Lamo to Reuters and which were published by Wired Magazine.

A transcript of the chat can be seen at: here

HAS HE BEEN FORMALLY LINKED TO WIKILEAKS?

U.S. officials have been at pains to avoid directly linking Manning to WikiLeaks, and refuse to discuss the case, citing the official investigation. The whistle-blowing website itself does not appear in the charge sheet provided to the public.

But in his Internet chats with Lamo, Manning acknowledges giving materials to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. He wrote to Lamo: "im a high profile source ... and i've developed a relationship with assange"

DID HE ACT ALONE?

Lamo told Reuters he believed U.S. investigators were also looking at people close to Manning with ties to WikiLeaks.

"I didn't believe he had the technological ... expertise to pull this off by himself," Lamo said.

(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)

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