Sunday, March 6, 2011

Assange Calls Bradley Manning An Unparalleled Hero

By Jerry Smith Mar 6 2011

On Wednesday, the United States government filed 22 additional charges against US Army Private Bradley Manning, one of them being 'aiding the enemy'. Manning is accused of copying classified military cables and then delivering them to WikiLeaks. If found guilty Manning could face the death penalty.

Julian Assange responded to the new charges against Manning by saying:
"They’re certainly trying to set an example. You know, one of these charges carries with it the death penalty, and that’s a very serious matter. And it will also be a serious matter if that charge is extended from Bradley Manning to other people and to us as publishers of the alleged material."

Assange also said referring to Manning:
"For him to now be in prison for 10 months in solitary confinement, without trial, is an abuse. He is, whether the charges are true or not, America's foremost political prisoner. If these allegations are true, he's an unparalleled hero."

"Look at what's happening in the Middle East as a result of some of the material we've been publishing."
After a seven-month investigation, the Army claim that Manning used government property to extract confidential information and share it with 'the enemy' for public consumption.

On Manning's charge sheet 'the enemy' was not defined which sparked rumors that it referred to WikiLeaks. The military said it referred to hostile forces who could benefit from learning classified military procedures and tactics.

Shaunteh Kelly, chief of media relations for the US Army Military District of Washington said of the unnamed 'enemy':
“It’s not WikiLeaks, OK?”

“Given that this is a national security case during a time of war, identifying this information may potentially compromise ongoing military operations.”
The U.S. government has been trying to prove there was a direct relationship between Assange and Manning, but have not been able to yet. In the governments attempts to link Manning and Assange they have even subpoenaed the Twitter accounts of people associated with WikiLeaks like Assange, Manning, Icelandic member of parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir, US computer researcher Jacob Appelbaum, and Dutch volunteer for WikiLeaks Rop Gonggrijp.

David Coombs, Manning's lawyer admitted that Manning was "not technically held in solitary confinement", but that he was being held in "unduly harsh" conditions.

Guards at the Quantico Marine base in Virginia are stripping Manning of his clothing, a humiliation tactic guards use in Guantanamo Bay, and leaving him naked in the cell for hours. A spokesperson for the Marines said that this was “standard operating procedure”.

Coombs said:
"This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification. It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated. Pfc Manning has been told that the same thing will happen to him again tonight. No other detainee at the brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation,"

“There can be no conceivable justification for requiring a soldier to surrender all his clothing, remain naked in his cell for seven hours, and then stand at attention the subsequent morning. This treatment is even more degrading considering that PFC Manning is being monitored—both by direct observation and by video—at all times.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell stated that Manning’s alleged mistreatment was more or less a left-wing fantasy, and that any time Manning has been isolated it was for his own protection, “because of the charges.”

Morrell also said that the conditions of Manning’s imprisonment were due to:
"the seriousness of the charges he’s facing, the potential length of sentence, the national security implications and also the potential harm ... that he could do to himself or from others.”
Morrell added that the treatment was "for his (Manning's) own good".

A Marines spokesperson said that a brig duty supervisor had ordered Manning's clothing taken from him to stop him from hanging himself.

Manning's supporters say there is no evidence he is suicidal, but he is being held under restrictions to prevent self-injury.

First Lieutenant Brian Villiard said the actions taken against Manning were "not punitive" but followed brig rules and added:
"It would be inappropriate for me to explain it. I can confirm that it did happen, but I can’t explain it to you without violating the detainee’s privacy."
David House, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Manning's friend and one of the few people who have visited him in prison said of his latest visit with Manning that he has watched his friend go from a "bright-eyed intelligent young man” to someone who appeared “catatonic” at times, with “very high difficulty carrying on day-to-day conversation.”

House thinks that Manning's mental condition is deteriorating from being confined to his cell for 23 hours a day and said:
“For me this has been like watching a really good friend succumb to an illness or something. I think that Bradley Manning is being punished this way because the US government wants him to crack ahead of his trial.”

Manning is mostly isolated from human contact and is given one hour a day in an empty room to exercise, where he can walk but is not allowed to run. Manning is also not allowed to sleep during the day and is restricted severely in reading material and in the use of his glasses.

Coombs said that the government has denied his request to have his clients custody status reduced from maximum to medium-security and that he will now be filing a rebuttal.

Final charges in Manning’s case are expected in late May or early June at a provisional hearing in the court-martial process.

Lawyers for Julian Assange have filed an appeal against Judge Howard Riddle's ruling last week that Assange, who is still under house arrest at Ellingham Hall in Norfolk,UK, should be extradited to Sweden because he felt Assange could get a fair trial in Sweden and that his extradition to Sweden would not violate his human rights.

Assange and his lawyers fear that if he is extradited to Sweden he may then be extradited to the United States, where he could face torture, confinement at Guantanamo Bay, both, or even the death penalty.

No comments:

Post a Comment