FORT MEADE, Maryland: The computer hacker who turned in Bradley Manning said on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) the tormented US soldier had never talked about helping Al-Qaeda after he leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents.
On the second day of Manning’s court martial, witness Adrian Lamo agreed with a defense attorney’s portrait of a tortured soul who acted out of a desire to inform the public rather than to aid US enemies.
Under cross-examination from defense lawyer David Coombs, Lamo said that a highly emotional Manning was also in the grip of a sexual identity crisis, which made him fear for his life.
Military prosecutors allege that Manning—who admitted to leaking a vast cache of classified information to anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks between 2009 and 2010—directly and knowingly aided Al-Qaeda through his actions.
However, Lamo said under questioning on Tuesday that the subject of helping America’s enemies had never arisen during his contacts with Manning.
Lamo engaged in online chats with Manning for six days between May 20 and May 26, 2010, shortly before the soldier was arrested.
Lamo, who answered many questions simply with a “Yes” or a “No,” told the hearing he had contacted police over his exchanges with Manning because he feared for the soldier’s life.
Asked if Manning had ever uttered “a word against the United States” or whether “he wanted to help the enemy,” Lamo replied: “Not in those words, no.”
A second witness, soldier Jose Anica, also said he had never heard Manning express anti-American sentiment.
“Did PFC Manning say anything anti-American to you?” Coombs asked Anica, who responded: “No sir.”
Lamo had earlier agreed with defense suggestions that Manning had been acting out of a sense of civic duty when he decided to leak the cache of secret files, and that Manning had been struggling with gender identity issues.
“He told you about his life, that he was struggling because of his gender identity issue? . . . He told you he made a huge mess? . . . He was emotionally fractured?” Coombs asked Lamo.