(MintPress) – Wikileaks whistleblower Bradley Manning is approaching 1,000 days in prison without a speedy, transparent trial, a clear violation of Manning’s constitutional rights.
After exposing war crimes and corruption committed by the U.S. armed forces by providing thousands of classified documents to whistleblower organization WikiLeaks, Manning was detained in 2010 on 22 charges that include “aiding the enemy through indirect means.”
In addition to being denied constitutional rights to due process of law, his conditions of imprisonment constitute a clear violation of the Eighth Amendment banning “cruel and unusual punishment” of prisoners.
The exact conditions of Manning’s imprisonment in Quantico Virginia are difficult to verify given the highly-limited access granted to outside investigators. However, a 2012 report by the U.N. special rapporteur on torture shows that Manning has been held as a “Maximum Custody Detainee” since the beginning of his imprisonment. The former intelligence analyst has been subject to solitary confinement for 23 out of 24 hours each day.
“I believe Bradley Manning was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the excessive and prolonged isolation he was put in during the eight months he was in Quantico,” said U.N. special rapporteur on torture Juan Ernesto Mendez in a 2012 statement.
On February 23, activists from around the world will gather to mark the 1,000th day of Manning’s unconstitutional imprisonment. Among the protesters will be Birgitta Jónsdóttir, a member of the Icelandic parliament.
The Icelandic MP is among a growing number of prominent public figures speaking out on behalf of Manning. Previously, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu and filmmaker Michael Moore, among others, advocated for Manning’s immediate release.
Thousands of human rights activists have organized public demonstrations through the Bradley Manning Support Network, helping to galvanize support for Manning and the rights of all whistleblowers. Although others have leaked information to the Wikileaks site, Manning’s prolonged, illegal imprisonment has made him the face of free speech advocacy around the world.
How did he get here?
Manning released a cache of classified documents and videos to the free speech website Wikileaks in 2010. Among the items released were 260,000 diplomatic cables showing “almost criminal political back dealings,” according to Manning.
The cache resulted in NATO forces tacitly acknowledging that civilian deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan were much higher than originally reported. Indeed, more than 111,000 civilians were killed in Iraq from 2003-2011 — a statistic made public through Manning’s work.
Among the items released in the cache was a video later known as “Collateral Murder.” The 2007 footage from a helicopter gunship shows American forces killing unarmed Iraqi civilians and members of the media. Despite exposing corruption and criminal activity in the State Department and U.S. armed forces, Manning has been one of the few individuals subject to prosecution.
Although releasing classified documents is a punishable offense under the Espionage Act and federal secrecy legislation, the crime committed is miniscule by comparison to the mass war crimes and crimes against humanity perpetrated by NATO forces during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
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