The Ecuadorian diplomat who gave Julian Assange political asylum reports from the extradition hearing against the WikiLeaks journalist, and explains why it is “the most important case against the freedom of expression in an entire generation.”
by Fidel Narváez, (translated by Ben Norton)
Part 6 - Assange never helped Chelsea Manning access national security information
One of the charges against Julian Assange is that he supposedly conspired with the soldier Chelsea Manning to obtain greater access to government databases y hid his identity to do it.
The argument is that Manning spoke in an encrypted chat with the user “Nathaniel Frank” (who the United States alleges, but has not proved, was Assange) and requested help from him to open an encrypted part of a password. The defense argues that Manning asked for help to protect her identity, something that journalists are obligated to do with their sources.
The defense brought before the court the best possible expert on the material: Patrick Eller, a forensic digital expert who worked for two decades for the U.S. Army and now is a professor of forensic evidence and the president of Metadata Forensics, which investigates civil and criminal cases. Eller reviewed the transcriptions from the court-martial of Manning in 2013 and came to the following conclusions:
a) The attempt to decrypt the password was technologically impossible and “computationally not viable” in March 2010, when the conversation took place between Manning and “Nathaniel Frank.”
b) Even if it were feasible, it would not have given Manning greater access to the government databases. At the date of Manning’s chat with “Nathaniel Frank” about the decryption of the key, Manning had already leaked all of the documents to Wikileaks, excluding the State Department cables, that were being stored on a network that did not require login information, because Manning already had access to it.
c) And even if it were feasible, the purpose would not have been to conceal Manning’s identity. What is much more probable, testified Eller, who interviewed members of Manning’s military unit, was that they wanted to use the administrative account to download unauthorized movies, music, and games, and this required decrypting the password. Manning, Eller said, was the “person to go to” in her unit to help her colleagues do this.
In his testimony, Eller also established that neither he nor the U.S. government can prove that “Nathaniel Frank” was truly Julian Assange, or any other person.