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Free Bradley Manning

UNTRIED AND unconvicted, 24-year-old US army private Bradley Manning has been imprisoned for almost 300 days, held in cruel, inhuman and degrading conditions under a ‘prevention of injury’ order at the Quantico marine base. He is kept in his cell 23 hours a day, force fed a daily diet of antidepressant pills, forbidden to exercise in his cell, and forcibly woken if he attempts to sleep in the daytime.

For the first few weeks of March, he was forced to sleep without clothing and stand naked for morning parade, which his lawyer described as ritual humiliation. Welcome to justice in Obama’s America.

Bradley was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq, on suspicion of having passed classified information to the whistleblower website WikiLeaks. He was charged in July with transferring classified data onto his personal computer and communicating national defence information to an unauthorised source. An additional 22 charges were added in March 2011, including ‘aiding the enemy’, a capital offence which carries the death penalty.

His father Brian Manning, an ex-navy intelligence specialist, has compared his son’s treatment to those in Guantánamo, while Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg, compared the treatment to what happened inside the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Ellsberg wrote that it amounted to what the CIA calls “no-touch torture”, and said he believed its purpose was to demoralise Manning.

Bradley’s treatment is creating cracks in Obama’s administration, which criticised the extreme treatment of detainees by George W Bush as being against the national interest. State Department spokesman Philip J Crowley was forced to resign after stating that Manning’s treatment was “ridiculous and counterproductive and stupid”. Obama weakly said that the Pentagon had “assured” him that Bradley’s confinement was “appropriate” and “meeting basic standards”.

On 19-20 March protests were organised across the world demanding his release, including Minneapolis, London, Montreal, The Hague, Phoenix, San Diego, and Vienna.

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