Wikileaks gives Bradley Manning $15,100 for legal defence

Wikileaks has given Private Bradley Manning, who is facing charges over leaking diplomatic cables to the whistle-blowing website, $15,100 for his legal fees – well below what was originally promised and what was expected.

Manning faces up to 52 years in prison if convicted for the crime and his legal fees amount to over $100,000, making the donation by Wikileaks seem a little paltry.

Indeed, Wikileaks was supposed to shoulder half the bill, $50,000, according to the Bradley Manning Support Network, which is only fitting since the website would have very little to share without Manning’s leak.

That offer dropped by more than half in December to $20,000, possibly because of Julian Assange’s own legal battles. Today the number is still $4,900 short. Wikileaks did not comment on why the number is short of the target, but restrictions on its finances may have resulted from PayPal, Visa and MasterCard closing down its accounts.

That explanation may not sit well with anyone who has made a donation, many of whom would have donated under the impression that the money would go to Manning. Exactly what Wikileaks has done with its donations remains a mystery. 

It supposedly raised $800,000 so far and has promised several times to be transparent with its spending, but that has not yet happened. At one point last year it considered paying staff up to €2,500 ($3,341) per month, but even then that would leave a large chunk of money unaccounted for.

The Bradley Manning Support Network has so far collected $100,000, including the Wikileaks donation. This should be enough to cover the flat fee of the same value to attorney David Coombs, but the Network believes that a further $15,000 is needed for extraneous legal fees.

Once the target is met the Support Network said it will focus on highlighting the mistreatment of Manning by US authorities. Manning is currently in solitary confinement.