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Judge Rules Bradley Manning Illegally Treated, But Upholds Charges
Grants mere 112 days credit for 'torture'
A military judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss charges against whistleblower Bradley Manning, instead granting him a mere 112 days credit off any eventual sentence after finding he endured unlawful pretrial punishment during his more than three years in custody.
"She confirmed that Bradley was mistreated, and vindicated the massive protest effect that was required to stop the Marines at Quantico from torturing Bradley," Jeff Peterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network said in a release. "Yet 112 days is not nearly enough to hold the military accountable for their actions."
Manning, 25, is accused of handing over about 250,000 diplomatic cables and war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq to WikiLeaks, including video of a US military helicopter killing a dozen civilians.
For nine months he was held in solitary confinement in the brig, against the recommendations of brig psychiatrists.
The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture called the conditions Manning was held under "cruel, inhuman and degrading."
Manning faces court martial—scheduled to begin in March— and is charged with 22 counts including aiding the enemy. He could be sentenced to life in prison.
Despite testimony by Manning of the conditions under which he was held, and by brig personnel who acknowledged "unnecessary command influence" may have been part of their decision to hold him in isolation, Kevin Gosztola at Firedoglake reports:
Judge [Denise] Lind in decision: Bradley Manning "not held in solitary confinement. It means alone & without human contact.” She also found no evidence of command influence that led to Bradley Manning being kept in unlawful pretrial conditions at Quantico.
The judge said that Manning's confinement was "more rigorous than necessary," the Associated Press reports. She added that the conditions "became excessive in relation to legitimate government interests."
Witnesses at the hearing report that "Manning will be credited due to the treatment he received from November 1, 2010 through January 18, 2011, when he was held in Quantico under prevention-of-injury status," RT reports. "Judge Lind also took into account seven days where Manning was kept on excessive suicide risk and a 20-day period where he was largely prohibited from wearing clothes."
Also on Tuesday, Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, argued that he should be allowed to raise motive during the trial, and that he should be able to explain that Manning selected information he believed would not damage the US and would not aid any foreign enemy, according to The Guardian.
Coombs said Manning's case is "unprecedented" because all previous charges of aiding the enemy have involved soldiers who actually went to the enemy and handed over information.
Neither the press nor the public will have access to the court filings, according to Gosztola, who wrote, "What a completely flagrant abuse of secrecy power."
"I think the government here has overplayed their hand," Ret. Col. Morris Davis, Professor at Howard University School of Law, told RT. Of the documents Manning released, Davis said, "I'm not aware of there being anything more than embarrassment that has been caused by the WikiLeaks documents... it certainly seems at this point that this is more of a case of embarrassment than actual harm."
Paterson, of the Bradley Manning Support Network, continued:
"Those 112 days are still vastly overshadowed by the outrageous 150 years in prison Bradley still faces. Despite Bradley Manning's honorable intentions to blow the whistle on unpunished war crimes, torture and government corruption and the military's failure to show any harm done to the US as a result of his releases, Bradley is facing harsher prosecution (and persecution) than US soldiers who are guilty of murdering civilians in the Middle East."
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RT released this video news segment on the case: