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WikiLeaks founder condemns Manning verdict, Obama

| Tuesday, July 30, 2013, 8:57 p.m.

LONDON — WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused President Obama of “national security extremism” on Tuesday after an American military judge convicted Bradley Manning of the biggest leak of classified documents in U.S. history.

Praising Manning as “the most important journalistic source that the world has ever seen,” Assange said the soldier, who prosecutors said supplied WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified documents, did not receive a fair trial and called for the verdict to be overturned.

“The government kept Bradley Manning in a cage, stripped him naked and isolated him in order to break him, an act formally condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for torture. This was never a fair trial,” Assange said from inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, his home for more than a year.

Assange said WikiLeaks and Manning's legal team would not rest until the judgment was overturned.

“It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism. It is a short-sighted judgment that cannot be tolerated, and it must be reversed.”

Assange did not confirm or deny whether Manning had, in fact, supplied WikiLeaks with classified documents, always using the word “alleged” when talking about the leak. WikiLeaks did not reveal its sources, he said, and always protected them.

Manning's conviction on 20 charges poses a potential problem for Assange since the severity of the judgment, which carries a jail sentence of up to 136 years, might deter would-be whistleblowers, the lifeblood of Assange's organization.

It also is a reminder of his own fate. Wanted in Sweden on sexual abuse allegations he denies, Assange has sought sanctuary in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London because he fears he would be extradited to the United States to face trial over his own alleged role in the leak case if he agreed to go to Sweden.

Manning's is one of two high-profile leak cases involving Americans. Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been holed up in a Moscow airport for more than a month, despite U.S. calls for Russian authorities to turn him over.

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