Statement by Julian Assange on today’s sentencing of Bradley Manning
Today the well-known whistleblower Bradley Manning has been ordered by a military court in Maryland to spend a minimum of 5.2 years in prison with a 32 year maximum (including time already spent in detention), for revealing information about US government behaviour to the public.
This hard-won minimum term represents a significant tactical victory for Bradley Manning’s defence, campaign team and supporters. At the start of these proceedings, the United States government had charged Bradley Manning with a capital offence and other charges carrying over 135 years of incarceration. His defence team is now appealing to the US Army Court of Criminal Appeals in relation to this sentence and also for due process violations during the trial.
While the defence should be proud of their tactical victory, it should be remembered that Mr Manning’s trial and conviction is an affront to basic concepts of Western justice. On Mr Manning’s arrest in May 2010, he was immediately subjected to punitive incarceration by the US government, which was found to be "cruel, inhumane and degrading" by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Juan Mendez, and even found to be unlawful by US military courts.
The period Mr Manning has already spent in prison will be subtracted from the sentence, and dispensations for good behaviour, parole and other factors mean that it is likely he will now spend less than ten years in confinement. Mr Manning’s defence team are now seeking to reduce this sentence further on appeal. US military law stipulates that the sentence can only be reduced. It is important that support for Bradley Manning continues during this time.
The only just outcome in Mr Manning’s case is his unconditional release, compensation for the unlawful treatment he has undergone, and a serious commitment to investigating the wrongdoing his alleged disclosures have brought to light.
Mr Manning’s treatment has been intended to send a signal to people of conscience in the US government who might seek to bring wrongdoing to light. This strategy has spectacularly backfired, as recent months have proven. Instead, the Obama administration is demonstrating that there is no place in its system for people of conscience and principle. As a result, there will be a thousand more Bradley Mannings.
That there will be many Bradley Mannings', will depend upon whether such people will be employed in uniform, and not in uniform, by the U. S. govt.. The U. S. is employing drones to combat people who are in unwanted combat with their armed forces, and the people who serve the uniform, for the U. S., also want their govt. to be relevant, in various other ways. It seems, the govt. isn't covering itself in glory, firstly, and then, the SEAL, and Rangers, not to mention the Green Berets, and Marine Corps, look to be in situations where they have to 'take out', soft civilians, like the elderly, and women. The weapons of the Special Forces aren't as specialised as to be used in any manner, and they are supposed to take out very small numbers in a span of time. Would a Marine like the Congressional Medal of Honor, being presented to his dead colleague, when innocents lost their lives in a gruesome manner before his friend lost his life?
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