Today Bradley Manning reportedly made a statement of remorse in a sentencing hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland. Manning’s statement comes towards the end of a court martial trial pursued with unprecedented prosecutorial zeal.
Since his arrest, Mr. Manning has been an emblem of courage and
endurance in the face of adversity. He has resisted extraordinary
pressure. He has been held in solitary confinement, stripped naked and
subjected to cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment by the United
States government. His constitutional right to a speedy trial has been
ignored. He has sat for three years in pretrial detention, while the
government assembled 141 witnesses and withheld thousands of documents
from his lawyers.
The government has denied him the right to conduct a basic
whistleblower defense. It overcharged him until he faced over a century
in prison and barred all but a handful of his witnesses. He was denied
the right at trial to argue that no harm was caused by his alleged
actions. His defence team was pre-emptively banned from describing his
intent or showing that his actions harmed no one.
Despite these obstacles, Mr. Manning and his defense team have fought
at every step. Last month, he was eventually convicted of charges
carrying up to 90 years of prison time. The US government admitted that
his actions did not physically harm a single person, and he was
acquitted of "aiding the enemy." His convictions solely relate to his
alleged decision to inform the public of war crimes and systematic
But Mr. Manning’s options have run out. The only currency this
military court will take is Bradley Manning’s humiliation. In light of
this, Mr. Manning’s forced decision to apologise to the US government in
the hope of shaving a decade or more off his sentence must be regarded
with compassion and understanding.
Mr. Manning’s apology is a statement extorted from him under the
overbearing weight of the United States military justice system. It took
three years and millions of dollars to extract two minutes of tactical
remorse from this brave soldier.
Bradley Manning’s apology was extracted by force, but in a just court
the US government would be apologizing to Bradley Manning. As over
100,000 signatories of his Nobel Peace Prize nomination attest, Bradley
Manning has changed the world for the better. He remains a symbol of
courage and humanitarian resistance.
Mr. Manning’s apology shows that as far as his sentencing is
concerned there are still decades to play for. Public pressure on
Bradley Manning’s military court must intensify in these final days
before the sentencing decision against him is made.
WikiLeaks continues to support Bradley Manning, and will continue to campaign for his unconditional release.
Free Bradley Manning.