WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison today, an outrage that flies in the face of America’s essential ideals of accountability in government, and which seeks to instill a chilling effect on those who’d dare to expose the United States’ illegality.
A heroic soldier of conscience, Manning witnessed war crimes, rampant corruption, and covert abuse while stationed in Baghdad in 2009-10, and exposed what he saw by releasing hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic files to the transparency website WikiLeaks. He has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three years in a row. Earlier this month, more than 100,000 signatures in support of his 2013 nomination were delivered to the Nobel committee in Norway. Military judge Colonel Denise Lind’s sentence is an outright injustice that we cannot accept.
“The only person prosecuted for the crimes and abuses uncovered in the WikiLeaks’ releases is the person who exposed them,” said Pentagon Papers whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg. “That alone proves the injustice of one more day in prison for Bradley Manning.”
Manning can subtract more than three and a half years off of that sentence, for the time he has already served. He was credited a mere112 days for enduring torture while detained at the Quantico Marine Brig. He will be eligible to reduce his sentence by 10 per cent for good behavior.
The fight for Manning’s freedom is far from over. Supporters and attorney David Coombs will demand Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, Military of the District of Washington commander and Convening Authority of Manning’s court martial, to reduce the sentence, which he has the legal authority to do. The Bradley Manning Support Network will collect and deliver thousands of letters in support of Manning’s clemency to Buchanan.
“By successfully funding Bradley’s legal efforts, and by mobilising worldwide support, we won an acquittal on “aiding the enemy,”” says Jeff Paterson, the Support Network’s director. “We move forward today on every available front to win his freedom.”
Coombs is applying for a Presidential Pardon, and the case will be brought to the Army Court of Criminal Appeals, to address several deprivations of Manning’s due process rights. He was detained without trial for more than three years, in violation of his Constitutional right to a speedy trial. He was only awarded four months off of his sentence for the psychological torture he suffered while in solitary confinement for more than nine months at Quantico, which fails to hold the Marines accountable for that treatment.
Furthermore, Obama declared Manning guilty in April 2011, more than two years before his trial began, which constitutes unlawful command influence, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Finally, Judge Lind allowed the prosecution to change its charge sheet at the 11th hour, after both the government and defense had questioned their witnesses and rested their cases.