From July 16–19 Bradley Manning underwent yet another pre-trial hearing, where this time the outcome was a ruling by military judge Denise Lind set to block Bradley Manning’s defense against his charge of “aiding the enemy by indirect means,” the charge that could put him in prison for life or even bring on the death penalty. The ruling asserts that evidence showing that Bradley Manning’s Wikileaks releases brought little or no harm to national security, and therefore did not “aid the enemy by indirect means,” will not be allowed in court.
These pre-trial hearings determine what will or won’t be allowed in the court when Bradley Manning’s case is finally put to trial in a court martial in September 2012. This latest ruling comes after over two years of imprisonment and torture that this 24 year old U.S. soldier has faced. His crime? Bradley Manning is accused of leaking over 260,000 classified United States diplomatic cables, as well as videos and documents which have become known as the Afghan War Diary and the Iraq War Logs. Published on the whistleblower site Wikileaks, they further exposed U.S. war crimes around the world including mass killings, torture, corruption, and the government’s web of lies and attempted cover-up of United States atrocities. Bradley Manning made a courageous decision to expose all of these documents and let the world know the truth behind the atrocities being hidden by the United States government.
The ability to argue the charge of “aiding the enemy through indirect means” in court is a key point in Bradley Manning’s defense, and the latest ruling presents a hurdle to Bradley’s defense, and makes the world-wide campaign to free Bradley Manning even more important. Recent evidence from dozens of government reports showed the leaks caused little “actual harm” to national security, yet this evidence will not be allowed in court. “Two years after the alleged leaks, the conclusion is still merely that the information ‘could’ cause damage - not that it ‘did’ cause damage,” the defense wrote in a filing to the court, calling the speculation of possible damage without proof “far-fetched and fanciful.” In his filing to the court, Bradley Manning’s lawyer David Coombs wrote that prosecutors wanted to hide “America's worst-kept secret -- that the alleged leaks did little to no harm to national security.” The harm that is done it that of exposing to the public the atrocities committed by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan, a crime of telling the truth and blowing the whistle on war crimes.
Over the past two years of imprisonment, the U.S. military “justice” system has used torture and unjust, criminal treatment to punish Bradley Manning and to say to other soldiers “if you speak out, this will happen to you.” But this has only made the call for justice and the demand for civil and human rights stronger and louder by Bradley Manning’s supporters around the world. Bradley was held in solitary confinement for the first 10 months of his incarceration. During this time he was denied meaningful exercise, social interaction, sunlight, and has occasionally been kept completely naked. These conditions were unique to Bradley and are illegal even under U.S. military law as they amount to extreme pre-trial punishment. In the upcoming August 27 – 31 pre-trial hearings, the conditions that Bradley has faced in his two years of detention will be taken into account. However in the recent hearings, Judge Lind said that U.N. chief torture investigator Juan Mendez won’t be allowed to testify in these coming hearings. Mendez’s 14-month investigation concluded that Manning was subjected to “cruel, inhuman, and degrading” treatment. The reason he won’t be allowed to testify? Because Mendez didn’t visit with Bradley Manning personally – however this was because the military refused to allow him an unmonitored visit with Bradley.
While the legal proceedings take place, the strongest defense for Bradley Manning is that of the people all around the world taking to the streets with their picket signs, banners and voices demanding “Free Bradley Manning!” Here in Vancouver, Canada, the Free Bradley Manning Campaign is working in coordination with international efforts and organizes petition drives, forums and pickets at the U.S. Consulate to demand freedom for Bradley Manning. With a strong and consistent international campaign, we can keep Bradley Manning’s case in the public eye and under public pressure, and see this soldier for humanity free!
To learn more about Bradley Manning’s case visit http://bradleymanning.org
To get involved in the Free Bradley Manning Campaign in Vancouver, Canada visit http://www.mawovancouver.org
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