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Techies finger Bradley Manning for US secret files database breach

While Ecuador looks to boot Assange out of its embassy

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Forensic experts have testified to a military court that they traced breaches of the US government’s secret intelligence database back to Pfc Bradley Manning - who is on trial for leaking classified files to whistleblower website Wikileaks.

In written testimony, National Security Agency contractor Steven Buchanan said that computer audit logs showed that classified Intelink information was accessed by Manning in 2009 and 2010. He was traced by his username and network IP address, the court heard.

Manning is facing 21 charges, including aiding the enemy; the soldier denies the latter allegation but pleaded guilty to 10 charges of misusing and transmitting classified information.

The 25-year-old low-level intelligence analyst is into his second week before a court martial for providing more than 700,000 secret files to Wikileaks while serving in Iraq. The private first-class could face life in prison without parole if convicted.

He has defended his actions as those of a concerned citizen, claiming he released the dossier of diplomats' sensitive memos and battlefield reports to Wikileaks to encourage debate about the US’ military and foreign policy. But the American government has claimed that his actions put lives at risk and threatened the country’s national security.

Another expert, David Shaver, also testified that large amounts of secret data were downloaded from Intelink onto Manning’s computer, but the private’s lawyer contested whether or not the prosecution could prove that Manning was the one who did the downloading.

Shaver admitted under questioning that officials didn’t know for certain that Manning was the one who conducted the searches for the data.

He also admitted that the software programmes used to get the data weren’t illegal. One of the programmes Manning was accused of illicitly adding to his computer was apparently used by everyone in the intelligence cell where he worked while another had not been outlawed by commanders.

Meanwhile, Wikileaks founder Julian Assange looks to have outstayed his welcome at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has taken refuge for a year to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning by cops investigating alleged sexual offences.

According to a report in the Independent on Sunday, Ana Alban, Ecuador’s ambassador to Britain, has been recalled for her failure to bring an amicable end to the standoff.

Alban is to be replaced with an ambassador who can bring an end to his stay, it is suggested. Ecuador is apparently desperate to figure out a friendly way to get Assange out of the embassy, where Ecuadorian sources say Blighty is quite happy to leave him alone.

At a meeting last week between Alban and Hugo Swire, the Foreign Office minister responsible for Latin America, Alban is said to have asked: “What are we going to do about the stone in the shoe?” To which Swire reportedly replied: “Not my stone, not my shoe.” ®

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