A U.S. military judge ruled Wednesday at a pretrial hearing that government prosecutors must prove that Army Private Bradley Manning intended to aid the enemy when he released hundreds of thousands of sensitive files to WikiLeaks. This announcement was celebrated as a small, but important step forward for the Manning defense that claims the private was […]
A U.S. military judge ruled Wednesday at a pretrial hearing that government prosecutors must prove that Army Private Bradley Manning intended to aid the enemy when he released hundreds of thousands of sensitive files to WikiLeaks. This announcement was celebrated as a small, but important step forward for the Manning defense that claims the private was simply calling out misconduct, corruption and activity in the military that could constitute war crimes.
In a February 2012 decision, the convening military authority determined that Manning will stand trial for all 22 charges, including “aiding the enemy through indirect means.”
Supporters and human rights groups claim that the trial proceedings violate Manning’s constitutional right to due process of law. He has been in prison for more than 1,000 days without a trial, and will have to wait until June when it is slated to begin.
The Bradley Manning Support Network, an international coalition of supporters has called for Manning to be released and has decried recent court proceedings for lacking transparency. In a post Wednesday, the support network reported that new media restrictions will make it difficult for any journalist to cover the trial.
“A military representative came into the media operations center to announce a new rule for journalists following last month’s release of a recording of Bradley’s statement. Cell phones are no longer allowed into the media room. ‘This media facility is a privilege not a right,’ she said. ‘Privileges can be taken away,’” the network reports.
For much of his imprisonment, he has been in solitary confinement in conditions that human rights organizations claim are illegal and inhumane. In a 2011 letter to President Obama, Amnesty International said that “the conditions inflicted on Bradley Manning … amount to inhumane treatment by the U.S. authorities” and ”appear to breach the USA’s human rights obligations.”
Regardless of the trial outcome, the U.S. government will now have to conclusively prove that Manning’s actions directly aided the enemy. Reporting from the media center at Ft. Meade, Maryland, independent journalist Alexa O’Brien writes that the United States government must now prove that Pfc. Manning acted “with reason to believe such info could be used to the injury of the U.S. or to advantage of any foreign nation.”
If Manning is found guilty on all charges, he could face a life sentence without the possibility of parole.
Manning claims that his actions were aimed at informing the public to U.S. military misconduct that may constitute war crimes. The video, “Collateral Murder,” one of the thousands of classified materials Manning released to WikiLeaks, went viral on YouTube, viewed more than 13.5 million times by people across the world.
The video depicts the murder of civilians and members of the international press by U.S. forces shooting from a helicopter gunship.
Additionally, Manning admitted to leaking more than 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables in February, activity reports pertaining to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The documents, Manning said, were of “enormous value to the American public” and contained “two of the most significant documents of our time” — namely the Iraq and Afghan diaries, field reports written during battle that Manning said would lift the “fog of war.”