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Is WikiLeaks Reneging on its Financial Promise to Bradley Manning?

An undated photo of Army Spc. Bradley Manning.
A spokesman for the group organizing the defense of alleged diplomatic cable leaker, Army Spc. Bradley Manning, says that WikiLeaks has been surprisingly slow in providing promised financial support for Manning. AP

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has a team of lawyers for his defense against sexual assault charges in Sweden. Since he sits in jail in England awaiting further hearings relating to his possible extradition, his international legal defense will surely prove to be rather expensive.

Assange is not alone in his need for large sums of money to provide a legal defense related to the leaked U.S. diplomatic cables.

The man who allegedly stole the diplomatic cables and war documents that made WikiLeaks and Julian Assange household names, former Army Private Bradley Manning, is sitting in a military jail in Quantico, Va., and has not even had his first pre-trial hearing, according to Jeff Paterson, spokesman for the Bradley Manning Support Network.

To make matters worse, WikiLeaks has been surprisingly slow in providing promised financial support, and is delivering less financial support that originally promised, Paterson said. WikiLeaks did not respond to requests via Twitter for comment in time for this report.

Paterson said in an interview with CBS News that Manning's lawyer, David E. Coombs, has agreed to a flat fee of $100,000 for what will almost surely be a lengthy and complicated defense in military court.

So far, Paterson said Manning's American supporters have raised about $50,000, and they had reached an earlier verbal agreement with WikiLeaks to cover the rest after WikiLeaks began publicly soliciting funds on Manning's behalf in July.

However, WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson said last week they would be donating only $20,000 to the funds. Late Tuesday, Hrafnsson said in an e-mail to The Washington Post that there had been a misunderstanding about the status of the payment had been "rectified" and the "payment is being processed now."

Paterson said he had an email exchange later in the week with someone in Germany who can reportedly release the funds, but, as of late Friday afternoon, the money had still not arrived.

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All of this has proved to be a surprisingly frustrating experience for Manning's supporters.

"We've been trying to work with WikiLeaks for months," said Paterson, adding he wished he did not have to go public with this back and forth. "We've been persistent. We had no desire to make a press statement. We felt we had to for a number of reasons. We could use the contribution."

Paterson is the project director for Courage to Resist, a non-profit that helps military conscientious objectors and defectors. Paterson said he believes Manning had a crisis of conscience regarding the military that led to the former private's alleged actions, which is why Courage to Resist is lending its help.

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