Press Release from Veterans for Peace and WISE UP for Bradley Manning

Re. Arraignment of Bradley Manning, 23 February 2012


Veterans For Peace Tells US Army:  Stop Prosecution of GI Whistleblower

An organisation representing thousands of military veterans is calling on the US Army to abandon court martial proceedings against Private Bradley Manning, the accused Wikileaks whistleblower. The young soldier, who spent his teenage years in Wales and has already been imprisoned for 21 months, will be formally arraigned today (Thursday, Feb. 23) at Fort Meade, Maryland.

Army prosecutors say they will file 23 charges against PFC Manning, including “aiding the enemy,” a crime that can be punished by the death penalty or life in prison.

Protesters have planned vigils for the time of the Arraignment, at which a plea will be entered and a date set for pfc Manning’s Court Martial, widely expected to be early May.  Supporters will gather at the US Embassy in London between 5pm and 6pm today corresponding with the actual time of the Arraignment in the United States.

“Where is the justice?”asks Gerry Condon, a Board member of Veterans For Peace. “The Army is shirking its duty to punish soldiers who have committed rape and murder. Yet they are trying to destroy the life of Bradley Manning, who has not harmed a hair on a person’s head.”

PFC Manning is accused of leaking classified information, among which is an Army video that shows US soldiers in Baghdad shooting down unarmed civilians, including two Reuters employees, from an Apache helicopter. The video, dubbed “Collateral Murder,” has been viewed millions of times on YouTube. Two children were seriously injured in the attack.

Prosecutors have also accused Manning of giving Wikileaks thousands of Army diaries from its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army’s own reports reveal that the killing of civilians was a regular occurrence and that the Army regularly lied about it. The diaries also show that the Army was lying to the public about the progress of the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Bradley Manning has already been confined for 21 months, including 8 months in solitary confinement at the Marine brig at Quantico, Virginia, where reports of his abuse caused an international outcry and lead to him being moved to another military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The US government has declined repeated requests by United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, to interview PFC Manning privately about this treatment.

Private Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, has complained on his blog that most of his requested defence witnesses have been denied by the Army judge, while all of the prosecution witnesses were allowed.

“This is a kangaroo court martial,” said Gerry Condon of Veterans For Peace. “It is now obvious that the US Army will not give PFC Manning a fair trial, That is why Veterans For Peace is calling on Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Commander-In-Chief Barack Obama to drop all the charges against Bradley Manning.”

Supporters in Wales are planning a series of events in April to correspond with the National Theatre of Wales production ‘The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning’ by Tim Price (11th to 28th April), which begins in the school Bradley attended in west Wales. Details will be available shortly. See this post.

Veterans For Peace is a 26-year-old organization whose mission is to abolish war through nonviolent means, and to take care of the needs of veterans and victims of war.

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