A 22-year-old soldier from Potomac is suspected of leaking combat video and other classified materials to the website WikiLeaks.
Manning remains in pretrial confinement in Kuwait and has not yet been formally charged, according to his family. He allegedly provided WikiLeaks with the classified gun camera video of an Apache helicopter attack in 2007 that killed civilians. WikiLeaks aired the video in April.
U.S. military officials told NBC News
that Manning was arrested after allegedly bragging in emails that he had provided WikiLeaks with the Apache video, three other classified gun-camera videos (including a controversial bombing in Afghanistan ) and as many as 260,000 classified cables. In one email, Manning allegedly wrote, "Hillary Clinton and several thousand diplomats around the world are going to have a heart attack" when they learn what cables have been released.
Wired.com could not confirm whether WikiLeaks received the supposed 260,000 classified embassy dispatches.
Manning came to the attention of the FBI and Army investigators after he contacted former hacker Adrian Lamo
late last month over instant messenger and e-mail, Wired.com reported
. (Lamo had just been the subject of a Wired.com
article.) Very quickly in his exchange with the ex-hacker, Manning claimed to be the WikiLeaks video leaker.
“If you had unprecedented access to classified networks 14 hours a day, seven days a week for eight-plus months, what would you do?” Manning asked.
From the chat logs provided by Lamo
and examined by Wired.com, it appears Manning sensed a kindred spirit in the ex-hacker. Manning discussed personal issues that got him into trouble with his superiors and left him socially isolated. He said he had been demoted and was headed for an early discharge from the Army.
When Manning told Lamo that he leaked a quarter-million classified embassy cables, Lamo contacted the Army.
Lamo told Wired.com that hackers who want to discuss their exploits frequently contact him, and he has never considered reporting anyone before. The supposed diplomatic cable leak, however, made him believe Manning’s actions were a risk to national security.
“I wouldn’t have done this if lives weren’t in danger,” Lamo said.
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