The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

March 1, 2013

Army GI says he leaked secrets to spark war debate

(Continued)

The Obama administration has said the release of the documents threatened valuable military and diplomatic sources and strained America's relations with other governments. The administration has aggressively pursued people accused of leaking classified material, and Manning's is the highest-profile case.

Manning has been embraced by some left-leaning activists as a whistle-blowing hero whose actions exposed war crimes and helped trigger the Middle Eastern pro-democracy uprisings known as the Arab Spring in 2010. He has spent more than 1,000 days in custody.

The soldier told the court that he corresponded online with someone he believed to be WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange but never confirmed the person's identity.

WikiLeaks has been careful never to confirm or deny Manning was the source of the documents.

Reached by telephone in Britain on Thursday, Assange would not say whether he had any dealings with Manning but called him a political prisoner and said his prosecution was part of an effort by the U.S. to clamp down on criticism of its military and foreign policy.

Assange himself remains under investigation by the U.S. and has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the better part of a year to avoid extradition to Sweden on sex-crimes allegations.

___

Associated Press Writer Raphael Satter in London contributed to this report.

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