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U.S. Has No Evidence Linking Bradley Manning to Julian Assange, Sources Say

bradley manningNBC News is reporting that federal investigators have been unable to find any evidence connecting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with Army Pfc. Bradley Manning -- the man widely accused of handing over classified military documents to the whistleblowing organization. Pentagon sources say the government has proof that Manning downloaded thousands of files from his computer, and gave them to an unauthorized party. Thus far, however, there's no evidence that this unauthorized party had any connection to Assange or his organization.

Manning was arrested last May, after the State Department obtained an allegedly incriminating record of online chats between the Army private and Adrian Lamo, a former hacker. In the chats, Manning talks about being in direct communication with Assange, whom he describes as a "crazy white haired aussie who can't seem to stay in one country very long." As Wired points out, however, Manning may have deleted -- or as he says, "zerofilled" -- any of the original evidence from his computer.

Officials have also denied allegations that Manning is being tortured, or detained in solitary confinement without due process. They did acknowledge, however, that a Brig Commander James Averhart violated procedure last week when he placed Manning on suicide watch. Averhart made the decision after Manning reportedly failed to follow orders from Marine guards. The Army private was then confined to his cell for two days, and stripped of anything he could use to harm himself. He has since been lifted from suicide watch, since Averhart didn't have the authority to place him there in the first place.

Julian Assange, meanwhile, is still under house arrest in London, and is facing an extradition from Swedish authorities, who want to question him on allegations of rape. The Australian national steadfastly denies having anything to do with Manning, and says it's impossible for him to even speculate whether or not the Army private was involved with WikiLeaks. "That's not how our technology works, that's not how our organization works," Assange told MSNBC last month. "I never heard of the name of Bradley Manning before it appeared in the media."

Tags: AdrianLamo, BradleyManning, JulianAssange, law, military, politics, StateDepartment, top, Wikileaks