An alleged whistleblower soldier being held in Kuwait over an international security scandal is a former Pembrokeshire school pupil, the Western Telegraph can exclusively reveal.
US Army intelligence analyst, Private Bradley Manning, has been charged with leaking classified information to whistleblower website Wikileaks in February.
The 22-year-old was arrested in May and held in Kuwait before being charged last week.
He is charged with releasing material including graphic gun camera footage, which appears to show a US Apache helicopter crew killing civilians in Baghdad in 2007.
The video, entitled Collateral Murder by Wikileaks, sparked international outcry on its release. Bradley attended Tasker Milward secondary school in Haverfordwest between 2001 and 2005.
It is understood that his parents had divorced and he moved from Oklahoma to Pembrokeshire to live with his mother.
One pupil in Bradley’s year, who asked not to be named, said: “He was really into computers and politics, he was always online, on MSN or myspace.
“I think everyone I know who has been talking about it can’t actually believe they know him.
“I can remember he boasted about his computer skills and stuff, but you just don’t expect someone you know to be arrested for something like this.”
Bradley returned to America shortly after finishing school and joined the US Army in 2007.
Wikileaks’ organisers have not confirmed that Bradley, who had top-secret security clearance, is the source, but it is believed they are prepared to defend him.
He faces charges under military law for allegedly illegally transferring the Iraq video and copies of documents to his computer and then for passing “national defence information to an unauthorised source”.
Online, a huge movement has sprung up demanding Bradley’s release.
Mike Gogulski, a 37-year-old web administrator from Arizona, now living in Slovakia, established bradleymanning.org after seeing the ‘collateral murder’ video. He did not know Bradley before the video’s release.
He said: “The video sickened me deeply. It’s disturbing on many levels. I watched and saw the slaying of these people, real human beings, apparently over nothing more than the idea that they might be carrying guns.
“Here we have the story of a young man facing the full weight of the United States government, with his very life in the balance. If he did leak the video then, like Ellsberg [Daniel Ellsberg, who released highly sensitive papers about the Vietnam War], Brad should be seen as a hero.”
Within days of Bradley being charged, 20,000 people visited the bradleymanning.
org site. A petition started last month has already attracted more than 1,400 signatures.