Bradley Manning, alleged WikiLeaks source, set up an early Facebook? Really?

Well, it’s a strange world out there. It’s been reported that the man accused of passing thousand of secret US documents to WikiLeaks was a tech geek who set up a primitive ‘social network’ at his school, years before Facebook appeared.

Private Bradley Manning joined the US Army in 2007 and was posted to Baghdad, where he worked on classified army networks. He has been linked to the publication by WikiLeaks of a video showed a US Apache helicopter attacking Iraqi citizens and two Reuters journalists (“Collateral Murder”), the Afghan War Diaries (76,000 US military documents published by WikiLeaks in July 2010), 400,000 US war logs from Iraq, and 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables. He’s currently languishing in a US jail, awaiting a military court marshall. Founder Julian Assange is currently on the Interpol Wanted list.

But before all that, back in 2001, he was a 13 year old boy, newly-arrived in Wales, UK, with his mother, herself recently divorced from a US citizen. Bradley joined the Tasker Milward school in the quiet Welsh town of Haverfordwest, in the same year.

Channel 4 News has revealed that he quickly developed a reputation as a geek, designing a site which supposedly anticipated social networking sites, most likely some sort of community bulletin board. Former school friend Tom Dyer told the new channel: “Overall, Bradley was renowned for his IT skills.”

Channel 4 details how Manning spent his teenage years growing up as something of an outsider, and was regularly bullied, but – at least according to his old school friends – developed what they imply was a strong sense of morality. However, he eventually dropped out of school and returned to the US shortly afterwards. The rest, as they say, is history.