The Bradley Manning Trials

U.S. Army private first class Bradley Manning (Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images).

U.S. Army private first class Bradley Manning (Photo Credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images).

Today I am going to observe the pre-trial hearings in US v. Manning that are taking place at Fort Meade, Maryland this week. Bradley Manning is a 25-year-old Private First Class in the United States Army who was arrested in May 2010 while stationed with the US army in Iraq. He has been in US military custody since his arrest. Manning was charged with 22 counts of misconduct – the most serious of which is “aiding the enemy”- connected to the release of various US Military videos, intelligence reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and State Department diplomatic cables on the website Wikileaks.

He is currently held in a medium security prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and faces a military court martial trial at Fort Meade, Maryland. In early 2011, Amnesty International called on the US Government to end the unnecessarily harsh and punitive conditions under which Bradley Manning was held in pre-trial detention at the Quantico facility in Virginia.

We understand that his conditions improved considerably after he was transferred to a medium security military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in late April 2011. Instead of being isolated, Bradley Manning is allowed to interact with other detainees, receive approved visitors, as well as receive mail from anyone while detained at Fort Leavenworth.


Maher Arar, Bradley Manning and the Sad State of the U.S. Justice System

Guest post by Chase Madar, a lawyer in New York. His next book, The Passion of Bradley Manning, will be published by O/R Books in the fall.

What the US government did to Maher Arar is certainly atrocious. But is our government’s treatment of Arar so very different from what it routinely does to its own citizens, minus the air travel and exotic outsourcing? After all, many of the atrocities that we have committed in the course of our Global War on Terror find easy analogs in our everyday “normal” justice system.

Take Omar Khadr, captured at the age of 15 in Afghanistan, tortured during interrogation and, after years of pretrial detention, convicted of a wholly invented “war crime”. This is surely an appalling persecution of a child soldier. But here in the United States we have young men doing life without parole for crimes committed when they were 13, and who have been treated no less roughly every step of the way. Is the Khadr prosecution consistent with American values? You bet. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST

Bradley Manning Still Held In Harsh Conditions

US Private Bradley Manning is accused of leaking information to Wikileaks. © APGraphicsBank

Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking information to Wikileaks, is still being held in unnecessarily harsh conditions despite the fact that he is an untried prisoner.

We are urging US authorities to review Bradley Manning’s situation. Under international standards, prisoners who have not yet stood trial should be treated in accordance with their right to the presumption of innocence.

In letters to US President Barack Obama and Secretary of Defence Robert Gates, Amnesty International has called for measures to ensure that Manning is no longer held in 23-hour solitary confinement and subjected to other harsh conditions.

Manning’s requests to have his custody assignment downgraded have been denied despite his reportedly presenting no problems to staff or inmates and having a clear disciplinary record while in custody.


Inhumane Treatment of WikiLeaks Soldier Bradley Manning

US Private Bradley Manning is accused of leaking information to Wikileaks. © APGraphicsBank

US authorities must alleviate the harsh pre-trial detention conditions of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking information to Wikileaks.

The US army private, 23, has been held for 23 hours a day in a sparsely furnished solitary cell and deprived of a pillow, sheets, and personal possessions since July 2010.

Amnesty International last week wrote to the US Defence secretary, Robert Gates, calling for the restrictions on Bradley Manning to be reviewed. In the same week, the soldier suffered several days of increased restrictions by being temporarily categorized as a ‘suicide risk’.

We’re concerned that the conditions inflicted on Bradley Manning are unnecessarily severe and amount to inhumane treatment by the US authorities.  Manning has not been convicted of any offense, but military authorities appear to be using all available means to punish him while in detention. This undermines the United States’ commitment to the principle of the presumption of innocence.

Last Tuesday, Manning was placed on ‘suicide risk’, which resulted in him being stripped of his clothes apart from underwear, and the confiscation of his prescription glasses for most of the day, which Manning says left him in “essential blindness”.


Q&A: Wikileaks and Freedom of Expression

The right to freedom of expression includes the right to receive and impart all kinds of information © Alex Milan Tracy/Demotix

International controversy over the Wikileaks release of US diplomatic cables continues to rage. In recent days, Paypal, Visa and Mastercard have barred their users from donating to Wikileaks, alleging that the site may be engaged in illegal conduct.  Amnesty International examines some of the human rights issues at stake.

Would prosecution of Julian Assange for releasing US government documents be a violation of the right to freedom of expression?

The US government has indicated since July 2010 that it is conducting a legal investigation into the actions of Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange for distributing secret documents.  A range of US political figures have called for a criminal prosecution of Assange.

According to Amnesty International, criminal proceedings aimed at punishing a private person for communicating evidence about human rights violations can never be justified. The same is true with respect to information on a wide range of other matters of public interest.