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Ahead of Trial, Supporters Rally for Pfc. Bradley Manning

Common Dreams staff

People gather for a demonstration in support of Bradley Manning in Maryland, where Manning's court martial begins on Monday. (Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

"Free Bradley Manning! Free Bradley Manning!"

Those were the repeated words chants being heard outside Fort Meade in Maryland on Saturday as supporters of the confessed Army whistleblower gathered ahead of his trial that's set to begin on Monday.

As the Guardian reports:

More than three years after he was arrested in relation to the largest leak of classified documents in US history, Manning will stand trial Monday over counts including "aiding the enemy" – a charge that could see him jailed for life with no chance of parole.

As a final show of support ahead of the court martial, pro-Manning activists staged a demonstration at the gates of Fort Meade near Baltimore over the weekend. Jeff Paterson, of the Bradley Manning Support Network, estimated Saturday that around 1,000 people had turned out for the rally.

As a succession of speakers address the crowd, sporadic chants of "Free Bradley Manning" broke out.

The 25-year-old soldier has been in custody since his arrest at a US military base in Iraq in May 2010. The arrest followed an investigation into the leak of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables and US army reports to whistleblowing site WikiLeaks.

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