Witness: WikiLeaks May Have Paid Manning for Documents

Politico reports that this claim is coming from one of the defense witnesses who spoke with Bradley Manning in a pretrial holding area at the Joint Regional Correction Facility. How reliable that is remains to be seen, and the defense filing is short on details. But needless to say, if this can be substantiated it would be a bombshell development:

[redacted] will testify that he was taken to the pretrial section at the JRCF and met PFC Manning. He will testify that he explained the purpose of his visit and asked PFC Manning who he was and why he was at the JRCF. PFC Manning allegedly responded with, ‘I sold information to Wikileaks.’

This allegation contradicts Manning’s own words from an online chat he had with former hacker Adrian Lamo last May, shortly before his arrest:

Manning: i could’ve sold to russia or china, and made bank?

[Ex-hacker Adrian] Lamo: why didn’t you?

Manning: because it’s public data

Lamo: i mean, the cables

Manning: it belongs in the public domain

Manning: information should be free

The defense recently backed away from the narrative that Manning was a courageous whistleblower, but that’s still the way Manning’s supporters (including Ron Paul, apparently) characterize him. David Coombs, the defense attorney, has been playing up Manning’s “gender confusion” and the stress he was allegedly under at the time of the leak.

At HotAir, Jazz Shaw reported on the defense’s strategy shift last weekend:

I’ve been following this story for a long time and have sat through numerous conference calls put on by his supporters and his defense team. This seems to represent a dramatic shift from what we’ve been hearing all along. Daniel Ellsberg (of Pentagon Papers fame) has become Manning’s biggest cheerleader and has been positing all along that Manning was some sort of hero, blowing the whistle on alleged wrongdoing and serving a “higher cause” than following his orders. Now, however, it seems more like they’re going with some sort of insanity defense.

If there’s also credible evidence that Manning was paid for the documents it would obviously discredit his reputation as a civil libertarian cult hero and make any sympathy defense much more difficult.