activist defense

on the intersection of activism and legal systems

Tag: chelsea manning

chelsea manning submits pardon request to president obama

Chelsea Manning, recently sentenced to 35 years at Fort Leavenworth for sending documents to WikiLeaks, submitted a pardon request to President Obama today. Manning’s sentence will also be examined by a review board that can reduce, but not extend, her term of imprisonment. In addition, Manning will be eligible for parole in approximately six and a half years, and can already apply for clemency.

Among other criteria, the Army Clemency and Parole Board may consider Manning’s “psychological profile” and “medical condition,” including her “need for specialized treatment.” In the meantime, Manning might have to sue to receive proper medical care. According to an August 27 New York Times editorial,

Private Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, said last week that he hoped military prison officials would voluntarily provide hormone treatment, without a lawsuit. It should not take a court order to get officials — including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — to do the right thing. They should give Private Manning appropriate medical care and safe but not unduly isolated housing, which should be available for all transgender prisoners.

A spokeswoman for Fort Leavenworth told NBC News, however, that the Army does not provide hormone treatment. Yet several federal courts of appeal have acknowledged that failing to assess whether a transgender inmate needs access to hormone treatment or surgery constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. If prison officials don’t voluntarily provide proper medical care and Manning is forced to sue, staff writer Margaret Talbot with the New Yorker predicts that “she just might win.”

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graeme dunstan avoids imprisonment for his role in anti-war property destruction

In July 2011, Graeme Dunstan assisted a fellow activist, Bryan Law, who smashed a hole in an Australian military helicopter using a garden mattock. Law died this past April. Dunstan, 71, represented himself at trial, where the jury saw video footage of Dunstan’s police interview, taken after his arrest. According to an ABC News article,

In the video, Dunstan admitted he drove his late co-accused Bryan Law to the Rockhampton airfield, opened a gate after a chain had been cut and took photos of him riding a red tricycle onto the civil aviation area before he allegedly chopped at a Tiger helicopter with a garden mattock. Dunstan said Mr Law’s act was symbolic and “spectacular” and he tried to assist however he could.

Yesterday the jury found Dunstan guilty. He was sentenced to three years of ‘good behavior,’ meaning he isn’t supposed to break the law during that time. He was also ordered to pay more than $160,000. Money will be deducted from his pension payments, but it’s unlikely the full amount will be recovered.

The helicopter was worth $45 million and was grounded for four months. In addition to seeing footage of Dunstan’s police interview, the jury also saw footage of a U.S. helicopter gunship attack that killed two Reuters journalists (and ten other people) in Baghdad in 2007. Chelsea Manning heroically leaked that footage.