For Immediate Release
Military Steps Up Retaliation Against Accused WikiLeaks Whistle-Blower With Arbitrary "Suicide Watch", Followed by Detainment of Approved Visitor
QUANTICO, Va. - Military officials at Marine Corps Base Quantico today increased the isolation of accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower U.S. Army Pfc. Bradley Manning by detaining Manning's friend and regular visitor David House at the base entrance until visiting hours were over. House was accompanied by Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.com, a website that has collected 42,000 signatures on a petition calling for improvements to the conditions of Manning's detention, which constitute extreme and illegal pre-trial punishment.
"The Bradley Manning Support Network is dismayed that Brad was denied contact with his only regular visitor besides his attorney," founder Mike Gogulski stated. "Immediately following a rally by more than 150 supporters at Quantico last week, Brad was put on suicide watch for two days for reasons his counsel could only conclude were punitive. He was stripped of all of his clothing except his boxer shorts and his glasses were taken away. It seems to me that the Marine command is now reacting in the worst possible way to rising pressure on them."
David House has been making regular trips from his home in the Boston area to visit Manning at the Marine Corps brig since he was transferred there from Kuwait last summer. While detained at the base gate, House posted to Twitter that "one of the many MPs around the car says his orders to stop us come from on high." House and Hamsher were held on entry to the base for nearly the entire period of visiting hours, repeatedly demanded to provide information and documents the MPs already had, and threatened with arrest. Hamsher's car was towed away under the pretext that she lacked proof of insurance, despite having presented a digital copy.
At Firedoglake.com, founder Jane Hamsher wrote: "There is no doubt in my mind that the primary objective of everything that happened today was to keep Bradley Manning from having the company of his only remaining visitor."
"This is a bizarre action by the Marines. I think they see the growing support for Bradley Manning, they see more and more people realizing that he is being treated unfairly, and that as the facts of the case come out more and more people see that he is a patriot and not a traitor," said Kevin Zeese, Director of Voters for Peace and member of the Bradley Manning Support Network's steering committee.
In a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates last week, Amnesty International stated that "the restrictions imposed in PFC Manning's case appear to be unnecessarily harsh and punitive." The letter also suggests that Manning's confinement is in contravention of international law, and calls upon the military to conduct a review.
House intends to return to Quantico next weekend to once again attempt to visit Manning and to deliver the petition.
In addition to petitions and public protests across the nation, the Bradley Manning Support Network has asked supporters to speak out against Manning's inhumane treatment by contacting officials at Quantico. The Support Network encourages concerned individuals to phone Quantico public affairs at +1-703-432-0289, to write to base commander Colonel Choike at 3250 Catlin Avenue, Quantico, VA 22134, and to write to brig commander CWO4 Averhart at 3247 Elrod Avenue, Quantico, VA 22134. We are asking that Bradley Manning's human rights be respected while he remains in custody; specifically, that he be allowed social interaction with other inmates, that he be allowed meaningful physical exercise, that approved visitors be allowed to see him without interrogation and harassment, and that the "Prevention of Injury" order (the military's basis for the extreme pre-trial punishment regime) be lifted.
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