After being held in custody for an unprecedentedly long period of 19 months, Bradley Manning now faces trial. Accusations include aiding the enemy and giving out US military secrets to Wikileaks.
The Nobel Peace Prize nominee is finally on trial after 19 months of being held in custody. Accused of providing Wikileaks with US military secrets, he may be charged with 22 violations of military code, none of which however seem to have affected the country’s national security. From the theft of records to aiding the enemy, Bradley Manning could be sentenced to life imprisonment. What’s 19 months in custody in comparison to that, right?
After all, the 24-year-old junior soldier downloaded about 700,000 classified reports on US military affairs worldwide. At the time, however, no one was keeping count or found it suspicious. The access was free.
Under US law martial cases must be brought within 120 days of arrest. In Manning’s case it has taken nearly two years. The military rule book says delays may be prejudicial and result in the dismissal of the case.
The extra time, during most of which Manning was held in high-security solitary confinement, was taken to obtain security clearance according to the military authorities. The maximum-security-risk suspect was allowed one hour of exercise a day and one hour of television. He was checked every five minutes by security and was expected to respond. Manning was also put on a suicide watch. All that was before even being charged.
The alleged Wikileaks informer’s defense says 150 years’ punishment was not enough for the US government and so they additionally charged him with aiding the enemy. Mr Coombs, Manning’s lawyer also said charges against Manning using unauthorised software should be dropped, calling it a “lawless suit” since soldiers constantly violate them by playing video games and watching films online.
On the February 23 Manning’s attorneys will be able to object to the prosecution against him during the arraignment hearing. They can also raise the issues of the suspect’s torture in custody, unlawful command influence and the harm done by the alleged release of the documents.
Meanwhile, the state’s strategy is to pressure the soldier to implicate Julian Assange in espionage, saying Manning discussed the website in chatlogs they got hold of.
The credibility of the government’s key witnesses against Manning has also been questioned. One of them turned out to be a hacker and a recovering drug addict.
Manning is wideley supported by the Anonymous group for “risking his life to expose government corruption.”
While the US sees Manning as a villain and friend of enemy of the state Julian Assange, others want to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize, saying he revealed much-needed truths about civilian war casualties in Iraq and Afghanistian. They hope the prize might save him from dying in jail.
The truth behind the Wikileaks informers might be revealed in Julian Assange’s new show on RT. The launch is scheduled for March 2012.