FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - The U.S. soldier accused of sending classified files to WikiLeaks had email discussions with the site’s founder, specifically about a video of an Apache gunship attack, a government computer analyst testified at the court-martial on Wednesday.
The emails between Private First Class Bradley Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange included classified government data about Army activities in Iraq and State Department cables, said Mark Johnson, a computer forensics expert.
One of the unauthorized downloads turned over to WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy site, showed an Apache helicopter gunsight video of a July 2007 attack against suspected Iraqi combatants. At least 12 people were killed, including two Reuters staffers.
WikiLeaks posted the video on its website under the title “Collateral Murder.”
The emails between Manning and Assange dealt “specifically with his release of the ‘Collateral Murder’ video,” Johnson testified.
A review of Internet chat on the laptop computer Manning was using showed he had several email discussions with “Nathaniel Frank,” an alias used by Assange, he said.
Manning, 25, is accused of releasing more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks. The most serious of the 21 charges he faces is aiding the enemy and, if convicted, he could receive a possible sentence of life in prison without parole.
Manning was a junior intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010 when WikiLeaks published the classified information.
In addition to U.S. military activities, “we have a number of State Department cables being discussed,” Johnson said.
The cables are official, but unpublished, communications between the State Department and U.S. embassies. WikiLeaks began exposing the government secrets in 2010, stunning diplomats and U.S. officials who accused Manning of endangering lives and damaging sensitive diplomacy.
Johnson also testified that he found digital traces of information uploads from Manning’s laptop to the WikiLeaks website.
Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the past year to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange, an Australian, denies the allegations.
Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Gunna Dickson