Contact: Gerry Condon 206-499-1220
Anton Black 206-235-3682
Devin McDonnell 425-773-1089
Supporters of Bradley Manning to Protest Prison Sentence
5 pm, Westlake Park, Seattle on Wednesday, August 21
Supporters of Army whistle-blower Pfc. Bradley Manning will rally in downtown Seattle on Wednesday, the day of his sentencing by a military judge at Fort Meade, Maryland. Judge Col. Denise Lind has announced that she will read his sentence on Wednesday, probably in the morning. The 5 pm rally at Westlake Park, 4th & Pine in downtown Seattle, is being organized by Greater Seattle Veterans For Peace. It will be followed by a march to Capitol Hill.
While a 22-year-old intelligence analyst stationed in Iraq in 2009-10, Pfc. Manning witnessed war crimes, rampant corruption, and covert abuse. He exposed what he saw by releasing hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic files to the transparency website WikiLeaks.
Bradley Manning has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize three years in a row. Last week more than 100,000 signatures in support of his 2013 nomination were delivered to the Nobel committee in Norway.
The US Army has held Bradley Manning in prison for over three years prior to his court martial, including over nine months in solitary confinement. The abusive conditions of his confinement have been condemned by Amnesty International and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture.
This week Army prosecutors asked the military judge, Col. Denise Lind, to sentence Pfc. Manning to 60 years in prison. Col. Lind has found Manning to be guilty of 20 of the 22 counts with which he was charged, including violations of the 1917 Espionage Act.
“Bradley Manning stands convicted of doing his duty under the plain wording of international law: to report war crimes that he had knowledge of,” said Anton Black, Bradley Manning Support Coordinator for Veterans For Peace #92 in Seattle. “His chain of command refused to investigate the 'war porn' contained in records they possessed when he pointed this out.”
In early 2010, Manning gave Wikileaks a copy of an Army video that showed US soldiers gunning down unarmed civilians in Baghdad from an Apache helicopter. The video, dubbed “Collateral Murder” by Wikileaks, has been viewed millions of times on YouTube.
“The U.S. government has a proven track record of not reporting or prosecuting war crimes it orders and its forces carry out,” said Anton Black of Veterans For Peace. “Cover-up and minimal prosecution after being reported by whistle blowers is the norm. No one has been prosecuted for officially ordered torture. The fact that the invasion of Iraq was based upon bald-faced lies and is therefor illegal has never been officially addressed. No one has been prosecuted for the crimes Bradley revealed. Instead, the whistle-blower is being prosecuted.”
"This has not been a trial - this has been a witch hunt,” said Devin McDonnell, a young Seattle activist. “I am outraged that the Army wants to put someone in prison for 60 years for obeying their own code of conduct and reporting war crimes. We must stand up for Bradley Manning, for freedom of the press, and for the value of what he did for the world by showing us the truth."
Gerry Condon, a member of the national Board of Directors of Veterans For Peace who attended Bradley Manning's court martial, will speak at the 5 pm rally at Westlake Park. “The government wants to know everything about us – they have stolen our privacy,” said Condon. “But they don't want us to know what they are doing in our name and with our tax dollars. Bradley Manning should be freed immediately.”
The Bradley Manning Support Network is calling for President Obama to pardon Bradley Manning.