HAGERSTOWN, Md. -- Michael Moore, the Oscar-winning filmmaker, will contribute $5,000 to help defend the Army private suspected of leaking classified documents to an Internet whistle-blower from serving time in prison.
A champion of liberal and left-wing causes, Moore told The Associated Press in a telephone interview he also hopes to make the public understand that Pfc. Bradley Manning exposed what Moore called "war crimes."
"He did a courageous thing and he did a patriotic thing," Moore said.
Manning, 22, faces up to 52 years in prison if convicted of downloading classified material and passing it to an unauthorized person while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
He is charged with leaking video of a 2007 U.S. Apache helicopter attack that killed 11, including a Reuters news photographer and his driver. WikiLeaks posted the video on its website in April.
Investigators say Manning also is a person of interest in the release of 77,000 Afghanistan war logs that WikiLeaks published online in July.
U.S. officials say the July disclosures endangered innocent people or confidential informants.
Mike Gogulski, founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, said he was delighted with Moore's support. The group is raising money for a civilian defense attorney for Manning.
Maj. Thomas F. Hurley, one of Manning's military lawyers, declined to comment.
Moore won the Academy Award for his 2002 documentary, "Bowling for Columbine."