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Bradley Manning supporter to file lawsuit over laptop seizure

David House, a founding member of the The Bradley Manning Support Network, says his property was illegally seized at an airport.

AN OUTSPOKEN ADVOCATE for the US Army private accused of handing over classified documents to Wikileaks, Bradley Manning (pictured), plans to file a lawsuit later today claiming US federal agents illegally seized confidential information from him at a Chicago airport.

David House, a founding member of the The Bradley Manning Support Network, claims he had his laptop, a USB memory stick and a video camera taken in November after two Department of Homeland Security agents detained and questioned him about Wikileaks and his association with Manning.

The items allegedly weren’t returned to House for seven weeks; during that time, House’s personal information – as well as private documents related to the Manning network – were copied and given to other federal agencies, according to the suit being filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The lawsuit claims that the actions violated House’s right to free speech and his constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure.

It also asks the court to make the government return and destroy any information taken from House’s devices.

The seizure of House’s materials “will chill the association rights of the Bradley Manning Support Network” by exposing them to harassment, retribution or by stopping them from freely discussing political tactics, the suit alleges.

House, 24, called the case a “trans-partisan issue” because the government is violating rights critical to all US citizens. ”I don’t think that our government should be treating lawful activists like suspects,” he said. “That’s very alarming to me.”

Manning, a former intelligence analyst, is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks.

House, a Massachusetts computer programmer, is one of the group’s chief fundraisers and says he has visited Manning at the Marine Corps Base in Virginia, where Manning is awaiting trial.

The suit claims House has been under intense federal scrutiny since he became involved in Manning’s support network.