Former United States Army private first-class Bradley Manning is facing life in prison for charges that he aided the enemy when he leaked military cables to Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks. But a campaign has surfaced online in support of the whistleblower as his trial continues.
Manning’s full court martial hearing began on Monday in the Fort Meade military base in Maryland and is expected to continue until the end of August this year.
In March this year, Manning pleaded guilty to 10 charges against him, including possessing and wilfully communicating information to an unauthorised person, but he entered a plea of not guilty to 12 more serious charges, including knowingly aiding the enemy.
The military prosecutors claim the files leaked by Manning, which were published by WikiLeaks in 2010, were a threat to national security. Manning was arrested from a military base in Baghdad in May 2010 and his laptop was seized. He has been detained since July 2010, including periods of solitary confinement.
Ahead of his trial, Manning was named among a record 259 nominees for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize and a petition in his favour has been set up by Roots Action. To date, over 60,000 signatures have been received.
Further support for Manning comes from the ‘I am Bradley Manning’ campaign, which has enlisted the help of famous faces in its ‘leaked’ teaser video. Actors Russell Brand, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Wallace Shawn, join director Oliver Stone, musician Tom Morello, and American journalists Chris Hedges and Matt Taibbi in supporting the campaign with the slogan, ‘I am Bradley Manning’.
The video challenges viewers and asks what they would do if they had the means at their disposal to expose a war crime. A key appearance comes from Daniel Ellsberg, the former US military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War. Ellsberg adapts the slogan, stating instead: “I was Bradley Manning.”
Following his confession, Manning wrote a 35-page statement explaining his decision to leak military information, and quotes from this are read by the high-profile figures in the video.