GAP Statement on the Bradley Manning Verdict

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Douglas Kim, GAP External Relations Officer
Phone: 917.907.4394
Email: douglask@whistleblower.org

Dylan Blaylock, GAP Communications Director
Phone: 202.236.3733 (cell)
Email: dylanb@whistleblower.org

GAP Statement on the Bradley Manning Verdict

WASHINGTON - Earlier today, a military judge found whistleblower and Army Pfc. Bradley Manning guilty of several charges, including five counts of violating the Espionage Act. The Government Accountability Project (GAP) has been closely following the court martial, including today's ruling. This verdict holds vast implications for whistleblowers as a whole, including the fate of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

GAP takes the following positions on today's events:

1.) The court's ruling on the issue of aiding the enemy is a significant victory for whistleblowers and for the First Amendment.

The determination that Manning is not guilty of aiding the enemy is a significant victory for whistleblowers and for free speech. This one ruling marks a just outcome to an unprecedented case of judicial overreach. Even the potential of a ruling in favor of aiding the enemy arguably has a chilling effect on journalists and free speech. In essence, it would have put any author of materials found in the hands of a designated enemy of the United States at risk of being found guilty of aiding the enemy. This is an impossible standard and antithetical in a country that guarantees free speech to all its citizens.

2.) The Manning verdict reinforces how difficult a fair trial would be for Snowden.

Though Manning was acquitted of aiding the enemy, he was still convicted on multiple other counts, including several under the Espionage Act. This serves as a reminder that the prospect of a fair trial for Snowden has always been tenuous, at best. Three days after the US Justice Department filed charges under seal against him, Snowden made this precise observation in an online chat on June 17, 2013:

"The US Government, just as they did with other whistleblowers, immediately and predictably destroyed any possibility of a fair trial at home, openly declaring me guilty of treason and that the disclosure of secret, criminal, and even unconstitutional acts is an unforgivable crime."

By the time Snowden wrote this, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), former Vice President Dick Cheney, and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) had already openly branded him a "traitor."

The whistleblowers Snowden referenced undoubtedly include Bradley Manning and former NSA Senior Executive Thomas Drake, a GAP client and whistleblower who exposed misconduct at the agency in 2002 and was charged with felonies under the Espionage Act. Manning, tried in a court martial, has fared badly as we just learned, and Drake endured four years of investigation and indictment before the prosecution imploded on the eve of trial in 2011.

The three whistleblowers – Manning, Snowden and Drake – have all suffered various incarceration, professional and financial ruin, and exile. This is precedent and, unfortunately, what Americans can now expect from their country when they expose unconstitutional and repressive actions approved secretly by all three branches of government.

GAP champions government and corporate accountability and transparency by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. Since 1977, GAP has fought to make large bureaucratic institutions accountable through the effective exercise of conscience.

Media requests for comment from GAP officials are being handled by GAP External Relations Officer Douglas Kim at 917.907.4394, or douglask@whistleblower.org.

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The Government Accountability Project (GAP) is a 30-year-old nonprofit public interest group that promotes government and corporate accountability by advancing occupational free speech, defending whistleblowers, and empowering citizen activists. We pursue this mission through our Nuclear Safety, International Reform, Corporate Accountability, Food & Drug Safety, and Federal Employee/National Security programs. GAP is the nation's leading whistleblower protection organization.

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