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WikiLeaks makes $15,000 pledge to defence fund of soldier accused of leaking diplomatic cables

By Daily Mail Reporter

WikiLeaks has contributed $15,100 to help defend a U.S. soldier accused of providing it with thousands of sensitive diplomatic cables, a support group said.

The website's contribution would help pay lawyers representing U.S. Army Specialist Bradley Manning, suspected of obtaining the classified video of a 2007 helicopter attack that killed a dozen people in Baghdad and downloading more than 250,000 U.S. State Department documents.

WikiLeaks had faced growing criticism over its delayed honouring of a pledge made last July to help with the costs of the legal defence of its alleged source. 'This donation from WikiLeaks is vital to our efforts to ensure Bradley receives a fair, open trial,' said Mike Gogulski, a founder of the Bradley Manning Defence Network.

Facing extradition: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (centre), with his lawyer Mark Stephens (left) appeared in court this week on a procedural as part of his fight to avoid extradition to Sweden on allegations of sex crimes

The WikiLeaks contribution brings total donations for Manning's defence to over $100,000, the group said. WikiLeaks' slow response to Manning's defence fund may be related to the financial difficulties posed by its accounts with Visa, Mastercard and PayPal being suspended after puported pressure from the U.S. government.

Supporters of the organisation have also claimed responsibility for cyberattacks on major credit card sites in retaliation for moves to block donations to WikiLeaks. However, the $15,100 donation to Manning's defence is less than had been originally promised by WikiLeaks and comes after it emerged the website's founder Julian Assange received nearly $90,000 in retrospective pay for his work in 2010.

Assange has denied knowing Manning but has accused the United States of using the jailed soldier to build a case against him.

The Australian founder of WikiLeaks is in Britain on bail awaiting possible extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning over alleged sex crimes.

While around $115,000 needs to be raised for Manning's defence, Assange's bail of $200,000 was funded through substantial donations from celebrities including Jemima Khan and film directors Ken Loach and John Pilger.

WikiLeaks itself also received more than $1million in donations in the last 18 months. Manning is being held at the Quantico Marine Base in Virginia as U.S. authorities investigate last year's publication of the leaked cables, many of which were an embarrassment for Washington, and military documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While Assange has been holed up at the Norfolk mansion of Vaughan Smith, founder of independent journalism group the Frontline Club, details of Manning's imprisonment at the Marine detention centre in Quantico, Virginia, make for sobering reading.

The 23-year-old is confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, is denied bedsheets and is prevented from exercising.

The young soldier is also forced to stand or sit upright if he attempts to sleep between 5am and 8pm.
It is not clear when Manning, who was arrested in the first half of 2010, will face trial. Manning served in the intelligence operations of the 10th Mountain Division's 2nd Brigade in Iraq.

Courtesy Daily Mail, UK

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