activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: bradley manning

military prosecutors will face an additional burden at whistleblower bradley manning’s trial

The trial of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of the largest unauthorized disclosure of confidential documents in history, is scheduled to begin in June. Today the military judge on his case, Colonel Denise Lind, imposed a more demanding burden on the prosecution regarding the Espionage Act charge against Manning. Specifically, Lind ruled that to show Manning violated the Act, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he had reason to believe his actions would harm the U.S. or aid a foreign power. According to a Los Angeles Times editorial from January 12,

A prosecutor indicated that the Army would proceed with … information that Osama bin Laden asked an Al Qaeda associate for some of the material that Manning allegedly gave to WikiLeaks. By that theory, the New York Times, which ran some WikiLeaks material, could be accused of espionage if Bin Laden picked up a copy of the paper.

Manning already pled guilty to 10 charges and confessed to providing documents to WikiLeaks. Although his plea exposed him to up to 20 years in prison, it was not part of a deal with the government. Thus, for disclosing data such as video footage of a U.S. helicopter gunship attack that killed two Reuters journalists (and ten other people) in Baghdad in 2007, he could still be sentenced to life in prison.

alleged whistleblower bradley manning speaks publicly for the first time since his arrest

Bradley Manning is the soldier accused of the largest leak of state secrets in U.S. history. He was arrested in May 2010 and held under particularly insufferable conditions from July 2010 to April 2011. In a Counterpunch article published on Tuesday, attorney Michael Ratner – President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights and Julian Assange’s U.S. attorney – described these conditions as:

… the nine-month period spent 23 hours a day in a six-by-eight-foot cell where he was forbidden to lie down or even lean against a wall when he was not sleeping – and when he was allowed to sleep at night, officers woke him every five minutes – and where he was subjected to daily strip searches and forced nudity. The UN Special Rapporteur for Torture has already found this amounted to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, and possibly torture.

Earlier this month, Manning offered to plead guilty to reduced charges. But the military judge on his case – Colonel Denise Lind – hasn’t formally accepted this offer, nor have government officials said whether they would continue to prosecute him for the other 15 counts he faces. These include the charge of aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Today Manning testified regarding his mistreatment by the military. Sadly, he has already been punished far too much for, as Ratner writes, allegedly sending documents “anonymously to WikiLeaks, which published them in collaboration with The New York TimesThe Guardian and other news media for the benefit of the general public, much like the Pentagon Papers were published a generation ago.”