Espionage Act charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange revealed the Justice Department is relying on a theory of the case, which was concocted and partly tested during Chelsea Manning’s military trial.

The theory adopts the CIA’s viewpoint, which is that WikiLeaks is a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” and suggests Assange recruited Manning as an insider or spy. She was deployed to Baghdad and immediately went to work stealing documents for WikiLeaks in November 2009.

But according to Manning, she did not seriously contemplate releasing documents to WikiLeaks until January 2010. She copied databases of military incident reports from Iraq and Afghanistan on to her personal laptop to take with her before she returned to the United States for mid-tour leave.

This is but one example of how military prosecutors fabricated a timeline to bolster their narrative of criminal conspiracy.

To convict Manning, a military judge did not have to issue any findings of fact about Assange or WikiLeaks. The matter of whether Manning was working for Assange was debated by prosecutors and Manning’s defense attorneys but never officially settled.

However, the statement Manning made during her court-martial on February 28, when she pled guilty to some elements of the charges against her, deeply conflicts with the prosecutors’ theory.

Manning is in jail at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria, Virginia, for refusing to testify before the grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. It is the second time she was jailed, and after 30 days, Manning faces steep financial penalties if she does not submit to the grand jury and testify.

Although prosecutors have an indictment against Assange, they recognize they must discredit Manning’s statement if they have any hope of persuading a legal body that Assange was part of a conspiracy.

Kevin Gosztola deconstructed the indictment with 17 Espionage Act charges. He examined the “Most Wanted Leaks” list from 2009 that is central to the government’s conspiracy theory and referenced statements made by Manning’s defense attorney during her trial about the preposterous idea that Manning was working for WikiLeaks.

To read the full report, head over to Medium.

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