Hours after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London today, a March 6, 2018 indictment was unsealed by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, which stated, "On or about March 8, 2010, Assange agreed to assist [former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea] Manning in cracking a password stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network, a United States government network used for classified documents and communications.” Manning was jailed one month ago for refusing to testify before a grand jury about her contacts with WikiLeaks. A day before the indictment, on March 5, 2018, Manning responded to a question after a lecture she gave at UCLA, which asked about her "interactions" with Assange.
"No idea," Manning claimed roughly 56 minutes into the posted video of the lecture. "Whomever I was communicating with...I mean it was...I can say this...It was multiple people I was communicating with."
She added, "That is the thing about the Internet...and the tools that we're using...because I don't want to be identified...and they sure as hell don't want to be identified."
"But it was multiple people," Manning insisted. "It was not one person."
However, in her March 13, 2013 statement during her court martial, Manning seemed to suggest that she was speaking with "an individual."
"Almost immediately after submitting the aerial weapons team video and rules of engagement documents I notified the individuals in the WLO IRC to expect an important submission," Manning's statement said. "I received a response from an individual going by the handle of 'Ox' - at first our conversations were general in nature, but over time as our conversations progressed, I accessed this individual to be an important part of the WLO."
Manning noted, "Due to the strict adherence of anonymity by the WLO, we never exchanged identifying information."
"However, I believe the individual was likely Mr. Julian Assange, Mr. Daniel Schmidt, or a proxy representative of Mr. Assange and Schmidt," Manning's statement continued. "As the communications transfered from IRC to the Jabber client, I gave 'Ox' and later 'pressassociation' the name of Nathaniel Frank in my address book, after the author of a book I read in 2009."
Manning added, "After a period of time, I developed what I felt was a friendly relationship with Nathaniel. Our mutual interest in information technology and politics made our conversations enjoyable. We engaged in conversation often. Sometimes as long as an hour or more. I often looked forward to my conversations with Nathaniel after work."
A chatlog of Manning's communications reveals that on March 17, 2010, "Nathaniel Frank" told her, "will be doing an investigative journo conference in Norway this week end, so may be out of contact most of the time."
As this picture shows, Assange attended the Norwegian conference on investigative journalism (SKUP) on March 20, 2010. A statement by Assange released on March 26, 2010, noted, "On Thursday March 18, 2010, I took the 2.15 PM flight out of Reykjavik to Copenhagen–on the way to speak at the SKUP investigative journalism conference in Norway."
Earlier today, I tweeted, "On 12/6/13, after I criticized @kpoulsen for not reporting for @wired that it may be tough to prove Assange was or always was "Nathaniel Frank" in convos with @xychelsea, @WikiLeaks tweeted that Manning's statement suggested as much, too. I presume JA will stick to that defense."