Bradley Manning, the US military intelligence operative arrested for allegedly leaking secret documents, has been hailed a “gay hero” by the British-based human-rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.
Manning, 23, who has a British mother but was born in Oklahoma, has been incarcerated by the US military for almost a year.
Last month, his mother, Susan Manning, from Haverfordwest in West Wales, UK, said she was concerned about the treatment Manning had been receiving since his incarceration on suspicion of having given material to the WikiLeaks website.
She visited him in the Marine Corps Brig at Quantico in February. When she made her comments, her son had been transferred to Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where he was said to have more recreation time and the ability to mix with other pre-trial detainees.
Australian-born Tatchell – one of the founders of the British gay campaigning group OutRage! – says today that, if Manning had leaked the documents to WikiLeaks, he should be praised as a human-rights defender.
Tatchell says: “Manning’s crime? It is alleged that he blew the whistle on war crimes and cover-ups by the US military in Iraq and Afghanistan. If true, the man is a hero. He is a defender of democracy and human rights.
“His actions are based on the principle that citizens have a right to know what the government is doing in their name. Bradley should not be in prison. The charges against him should be dropped. Set him free. Put on trial those who killed innocent civilians and those who protected the perpetrators.”
Pink News says of Manning’s incarceration in the brig at Quantico: “He was required to strip regularly and was held in a bare cell. Last month, he was moved to a medium-security prison in Kansas following lengthy assessments. He is now able to live alongside other prisoners and his surroundings have been described as more comfortable.”
Manning’s mother Susan appealed to UK Foreign Secretary William Hague to intercede on her son’s behalf, to ensure that he would be treated well.
Peace campaigner angered
President Barack Obama recently appeared to convict Manning before his trial, when he said on April 21 that the 23-year-old “broke the law.” This has angered Veterans for Peace, who said Obama’s statement cast doubt on whether Manning can now receive a fair trial.
Elliott Adams, president of Veterans for Peace, told World News: “Members of the military are trained to follow orders. President Obama is the commander of all armed forces.
“Any officer who wants to advance in his military career would be wise not to contradict their commander-in-chief, especially after the military's brutal treatment of Manning this past year. The President seems to have forgotten what he taught his constitutional law classes about being innocent until proven guilty.”
Adams said the US government had already violated Manning’s rights by keeping him in solitary confinement since his arrest last May, “and the President bears ultimate responsibility for the abusive treatment Manning has endured since July 2010 at Quantico Marine Base.”
Manning is expected to face a pre-trial hearing this or next month.