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Manning’s Lawyer Demands Presidential Pardon for WikiLeaks Whistle-Blower
WASHINGTON - September 4 - David Coombs, chief attorney for WikiLeaks whistle-blower PVT Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, filed an application for a Presidential Pardon on Manning’s behalf. That application has been made public at http://pardon.bradleymanning.org/ , along with a link to a White House petition in which tens of thousands of supporters have signed to support PVT Manning's request.
In a letter addressed to President Obama, PVT Manning states of the decision to release hundreds of thousands of U.S. military and diplomatic documents to the public: “The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in.”
Manning was sentenced earlier this month to 35 years in military confinement. After being acquitted of 'Aiding the Enemy,' she was convicted of espionage, computer fraud, and federal theft for releasing documents to transparency organization WikiLeaks.
Manning’s letter to Obama continues,
We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.
In a cover letter supporting the application, Coombs writes,
Private Manning is a military whistleblower. He disclosed documents that were vital for a healthy public debate about our conduct in Iraq and Afghanistan, our detention policies at Guantanamo, and out diplomatic activities around the world. The sentence given to him by the military judge grossly exaggerates the seriousness of his conduct... It will undoubtedly have a chilling effect on future whistleblowers and damage the public's perception of military justice.
He quotes Ben Wizner, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project, who said,
[A] legal system that doesn't distinguish between leaks to the press in the public interest and treason against the nation will not only produce unjust results, but will deprive the public of critical information that is necessary for democratic accountability.
Amnesty International also submitted a letter in support of Manning’s freedom, noting that some of the documents Manning released to WikiLeaks “pointed to potential human rights violations and breaches of international humanitarian law.”
Manning should be shown clemency in recognition of his motives for acting as he did, the treatment he endured in his early pre-trial detention, and the due process shortcomings during his trial.
Public figures as wide-ranging as Lady Gaga, the NYT Editorial Board and former congressman Ron Paul condemned the severity of the 35-year sentence given to Manning on August 21. In response to a question from an AP reporter later that day, White House spokesman Josh Earnest stated that President Obama would consider a request for a pardon from Pvt. Manning if filed.
Formerly known as Bradley, Manning recently announced her desire to be known as Chelsea and to be referred to with female pronouns – except in legal documents, where she’ll be referred to as Bradley.
Read Manning’s full letter to President Obama here:
Read Coombs’ letter to President Obama here:
Read Amnesty International’s letter here: