BY KEVIN POULSEN AND KIM ZETTER
06.11.10 | 3:58 PM
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange wants a copy of the chat logs in which a U.S. intelligence analyst discussed providing classified materials to the whistle-blower site, according to an e-mail shown to Wired.com by the ex-hacker who turned the analyst in.
Assange says he’s arranging the legal defense for 22-year-old Bradley Manning, now in his third week in military custody.
In the Friday e-mail to Adrian Lamo, Assange (or someone convincingly posing as him) claims he wants to forward the logs to attorneys he says he’s hired to represent Manning, though the e-mail doesn’t explain why the unnamed lawyers aren’t approaching Lamo directly.
The e-mail also contains talking points Assange would like to see Lamo adopt in describing Manning, and in explaining his decision to report the suspected leaker to law enforcement.
Subject: Manning’s defence; logs; strategy
Wired.com could not confirm that Manning has accepted Assange’s offer of legal assistance. A phone call to his aunt, who has been in contact with Manning following his arrest, was not returned Friday. Assange did not immediately respond to inquiries from Wired.com.
Lamo says he hasn’t attempted to whip up sentiment against Manning, and that he doesn’t intend to comply with Assange’s request.
“No, I’m not going to give the logs to someone who suggests that I might have been drug-addled when I decided to turn in a spy,” says Lamo, who takes prescription medication for depression and Asperger’s Disorder. “Private Manning’s attorney can get them by discovery like everyone else.”
In his chats with Lamo, copies of which were provided to Wired.com by the ex-hacker, Manning described a crisis of conscience that led him to leak a headline-making video of a deadly 2007 U.S. helicopter air strike in Baghdad that claimed the lives of several innocent civilians. He also boasted of leaking a separate video showing the notorious 2009 Garani air strike in Afghanistan that Wikileaks has previously acknowledged is in its possession; a classified Army document evaluating Wikileaks as a security threat, which the site posted in March; a detailed Army chronology of events in the Iraq war; and a cache of 260,000 classified U.S. diplomatic cables.
Wikileaks has neither confirmed nor denied that Manning leaked information to the site, but on Sunday it tweeted that “Allegations in Wired that we have been sent 260,000 classified US embassy cables are, as far as we can tell, incorrect.”
Manning told Lamo that he expected the cables to be released in a “searchable format” to the public. The prospect of the cable leak appears to be of particular concern to the United States. One or more of Manning’s hard drives were flown to Washington on Thursday, according to the Associated Press, and State Department diplomatic security agents are examining them for evidence of the allegedly downloaded cables. The Daily Beast reported that the Pentagon is attempting to locate Assange before he publishes the cables, though it’s not clear what defense officials plan to do if they find him.
Responding to the report, Wikileaks tweeted Friday, “Any signs of unacceptable behavior by the Pentagon or its agents towards this press will be viewed dimly.”
Assange was previously scheduled to speak at 4:30 p.m. Pacific time Friday at the Investigative Reporters and Editors conference in Las Vegas. On Friday, Wikileaks tweeted that Assange still plans on participating on the panel, but IRE told the Daily Beast that Assange actually canceled several days ago.
Last week, Assange was scheduled to appear beside Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, but he wound up participating from Australia over Skype instead.
Top photo: Julian Assange (Lily Mihalik/Wired.com). Bradley Manning photo via Facebook.com