Posted on May 31, 2013 by Jean
Published time: May 31, 2013 16:22
Supporters of U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning protest during his
scheduled motion hearing, outside the gates of Fort Meade. (Reuters /
Jose Luis Magaua)
Rallies are planned this weekend in dozens of cities across the globe
in support of Private first class Bradley Manning as the former Army
intelligence analyst prepares to stand trial for the largest
intelligence leak in United States history.
The military court-martial against the 25-year-old soldier begins
Monday in Ft. Meade, Maryland and is expected to continue throughout the
summer. Manning faces a life in prison if convicted of the most serious
of the counts against him — aiding the enemy — but presiding judge Col.
Denise Lind previously said she’d credit the alleged leaker with 112 days due to the egregious conditions he endured while held for roughly nine months in a US Marine brig.
Manning is charged with uploading hundreds of thousands of sensitive
documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, including US State
Department diplomatic cables,
war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and detainee assessment files for
men held at the military’s controversial Guantanamo Bay prison. He admitted to leaking the documents during pretrial testimony presented
in February. Army prosecutors say al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula
benefited by WikiLeaks’ publishing of the documents, and a member of the
Navy SEALs team that executed the lethal raid on Osama bin Laden’s
Abbottabad, Pakistan compound is expected to take the stand during a
closed-door court hearing in the coming weeks.
Last week marked three years to the day since Manning was captured by
US authorities in Iraq while on duty and brought into custody. He spent
nearly two months inside of a cage in
Kuwait before being transferred to Quantico Marine Base in Northern
Virginia, where for most of a year he was subjected to treatment
considered by a United Nations special rapporteur to be tantamount to torture.
He has spent the last two months imprisoned at an Army facility in
Leavenworth, Kansas, though he’s been carted to-and-from Ft. Meade
outside of Baltimore since December 2011 when his pretrial hearings
Supporters of the soldier and his defense counsel asked the court to drop charges against the soldier not just due to theconditions at Quantico but because of the more than 1,000 days he’s
been held in pretrial confinement. Demonstrators will gather at Ft.
Meade on the eve of the court-martial and at other sites around the
globe this weekend to pay tribute to a man hailed as a whistleblower by
some but condemned by the country he swore to protect.
Demonstrations have been held at Quantico, Ft. Meade and other sites
since Manning was apprehended in May 2010, but organizers of this
weekend’s event near the military court expect it to be the largest of
its kind ever. Rallies elsewhere will occur on at least four continents.
Daniel Ellsberg, a former Department of Defense employee who
infamously leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War, is
expected to speak at Ft. Meade on Saturday and in nearby Washington, DC
“Americans who care about the future of our country need to be involved in Bradley’s defense,” Ellsberg wrote in a statement this month. “The
deﬁning issues of the twenty-first century, including the transparency
and accountability of our government, are at stake. I believe history is
on the side of those who seek to reveal the truth, not on the side of
those who seek to conceal it.”
Daniel Ellsberg, a former Department of Defense employee. (Reuters)
Organizers expect as many as 1,000 supporters at Saturday’s rally at
the Army base, and the military acknowledged this weekend that the
number of press credential requests submitted for the trial is five
times what Ft. Meade’s media center can accommodate. Offsite, however,
rallies are expected to be held in more than two dozen major American
and international cities.
On June 1, events in Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK, Italy and
South Korea will coincide with the rally outside of Ft. Meade as well as
others planned in cities across the US.
Busses will bring supporters from all over the US to Ft. Meade on
Saturday for a march from the gates of the facility to an offsite
location where Ellsberg will be joined by a number of other well-known
advocates of the soldier, including former State Department official
Col. Ann Wright and anti-Don’t Ask Don’t Tell activist Lt. Dan Choi.
In London, Manning supporters will gather outside the US Embassy to
rally in support. The Consulate General of the United States will be the
site of a similar event in Toronto, Ontario, as will the US embassies
in Rome, Italy and Seoul, South Korea. At least 20 events will occur in
just the US on Saturday, including protests in city parks and military
bases, and demonstrators in Toledo, Ohio will march in support of Pfc.
Manning during the historic King Wamba Parade in Toledo, Ohio. Other
gatherings are planned internationally when the court-martial begins on
Monday as part of an International Solidarity Week of Action organized
by the Bradley Manning Support Network.
“Bradley believed that the American people have a right to know
the truth about what our government does around the world in our name.
We will send a message to the military prosecuting authority, and
President Obama, that Bradley Manning is a patriot and heroic
truth-teller,” the Support Network wrote of the events.
On Sunday, Ellsberg will join attorney Michael Ratner and others at a
church in Washington to speak about the case. Ratner is the president
emeritus at the Center for Constitutional Rights and serves as the
American attorney for Julian Assange, founder and publisher of
WikiLeaks. Assange has been inside of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London
for 11 months in order to avoid extradition to Sweden where he is wanted
for questioning in regards to allegation of sex crimes.
Last week, Assange spoke to Democracy Now! about the US government’s
allegation that Manning aided the enemy by going to WikiLeaks.
“If that precedent is allowed to be erected, it will do two
things. Firstly, it means it’s a potential death penalty for any person
in the military speaking to a journalist about a sensitive matter.
Secondly, it also embroils the journalist and the publication in that
chain of communicating, they would say, to the enemy, and therefore
making them susceptible, as well, to the Espionage Act, which also has
capital offenses. And that is part of the US — that latter part is part
of the US attack on WikiLeaks, including myself,” Assange said.
Manning is charged with violating the Espionage Act, aiding the enemy
and a number of other counts. He pleaded guilty to lesser offenses
earlier this year carrying a possible 20 year prison sentence, but the
Army said they’d continue to pursue all charges.
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