Attempts by the United States government to extradite Julian Assange appear dead in the water after the US Army said its efforts to link the WikiLeaks editor-in-chief to Bradley Manning, the man who is alleged to have leaked the US embassy cables and a video of a US helicopter crew gunning down Iraqi civilians, have come to nothing.
Attempts by the US Justice Department to build a case for the extradition of Assange are said to depend on whether it can be proven that he conspired with Manning, a US Army intelligence analyst, to steal classified information.
However, military officials have told NBC News that, while they maintain Manning downloaded classified documents to his own computer, there is no evidence that he contacted Assange directly.
This version tallies with the WikiLeaks editor’s own claims that he had never heard Manning’s name until reports surfaced in the media last year. Assange says that the WikiLeaks website is designed to ensure whistleblowers maintain their anonymity.
Manning was only arrested after he allegedly confessed his activities to a noted hacker, Adrian Lamo, who then betrayed him to the authorities.
He currently languishes in a military prison in solitary confinement, shackled at the hands and legs during all visits and allowed ONLY one hour of exercise per day – conditions described by Amnesty as “inhumane”.
Assange cannot breathe a sigh of relief just yet, however. The US Justice Department said that a charge of conspiracy under the 1917 Espionage Act was only one avenue it was pursuing to effect his extradition.
Assange, meanwhile, remains in the UK, where he is on bail pending an extradition hearing relating to allegations of sexual misconduct in Sweden. The case commences on February 7 or 8.
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