Military prosecutors ended a seven-day pretrial hearing Thursday by presenting new chat logs between Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking secret U.S. documents to WikiLeaks, and Julian Assange, the website’s founder. The evidence sheds new light on the relationship between the two men.
The latest chat excerpts, which were presented during closing arguments, came from Manning’s personal laptop computer, reports the Washington Post. Prosecutors said they show that Manning and Assange collaborated to steal and publish over 700,000 documents filled with state secrets. The publication of those secrets caused “extreme harm” to the United States, according to the prosecution. Capt. Ashden Fein said Assange did more than simply accept documents from Manning.
In a March 8, 2010, chat, Manning asked Assange for help in cracking a password so he could log onto the classified computer anonymously, Fein said.
“Any good at IM-Hash cracking?” Manning asks.
“Yes,” is the reply. “We have rainbow tables for IM,” the interlocutor says, citing a tool that can be used to decipher passwords.
Manning sends a string of numbers.
“Passed it on to our guys,” is the reply.
The new evidence is not only bad news for Manning, who will find out early next year what charges he will face if his court martial proceeds, but for Assange as well. In a separate federal investigation, the Justice Department is considering several offenses with which to charge Assange — including conspiracy and trafficking in stolen property.
Manning’s defense attorney, David Coombs, argued this week that the prosecution was “over-charging” his client in an attempt to obtain a plea agreement and cooperation in the case against Assange.
Fein said that the military “trained and trusted” Manning, who used that training to betray his country.