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Air attack video given to WikiLeaks could help enemy: witness

U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning enters the courtroom for day four of his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland in this June 10
U.S. Army Private First Class Bradley Manning enters the courtroom for day four of his court martial at Fort Meade, Maryland in this June 10

By Tom Ramstack

FORT MEADE, Maryland (Reuters) - A video of an Apache gunship attack allegedly provided by a U.S. soldier to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks could help enemy fighters in attacking American forces, a battle strategist testified at the soldier's court-martial on Wednesday.

The gunsight video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Baghdad is among more than 700,000 classified files Private First Class Bradley Manning is accused of providing to WikiLeaks. At least 12 people were killed in the attack, including two Reuters staffers.

WikiLeaks' disclosures of tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) could help enemies "anticipate United States operations and plan more effective strategies as a result," Army Chief Warrant Officer Jon LaRue said in a statement read into the court record.

The video revealed details of how the Apache attack helicopters operate, including use of their laser gunsights, angles of engagement and strategies for deploying them, he said.

"TTP is a puzzle," said LaRue, who helps develop combat tactics at Fort Rucker, Alabama, an Army flight training base. Disclosure of the Apache video could help U.S. enemies "solve the puzzle," he said.

Manning, 25, faces 21 charges, with the most serious one aiding the enemy. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

Manning was a junior intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010 when WikiLeaks published the classified information.

A government computer forensics expert, Mark Johnson, also testified that Manning had email discussions with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange about the Apache video and State Department cables.

A review of Internet chat on the laptop computer Manning was using showed that Assange had the alias "Nathaniel Frank" in emails, he said. Johnson also testified that he found digital traces of information uploads from Manning's laptop to the WikiLeaks website.

WikiLeaks began exposing the government secrets in 2010. The release stunned diplomats and U.S. officials who accused Manning of endangering lives and damaging sensitive diplomacy.

Assange has taken refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London for the past year to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faces questioning about allegations of rape and sexual assault. Assange, an Australian, denies the allegations.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson; Editing by Barbara Goldberg, Gunna Dickson and Richard Chang)

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