Hearings at Ft. Meade, protests around the world
Bradley Manning’s motion hearing comes to a close with the judge upholding the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’, and prosecution attempting to ban any reference to the lack of harm caused from future court proceedings. The military continues to delay the proceedings: extending once again the trial timeline. As such we need to raise an additional $50,000 for legal defense expenses. Please donate.
April 30, 2012. Bradley Manning Support Network. Supporters took action around the world as Bradley Manning’s most recent Article 39 motion hearing came to a close, bringing him one step closer to court martial. During the three-day hearing the defense filed motions to remove the charge of ‘aiding the enemy,’ and to combine a number of the charges filed against Bradley Manning, blaming the prosecution for having listed a single offense multiple times in order to unreasonably multiply the sentence. The prosecution also filed a motion to gag any attempt by the defense to mention the lack of harm caused by the documents.
The military has used this hearing as an opportunity to clarify that they do not care whether Bradley Manning was acting with patriotic motives, or even whether the U.S. was actually damaged in any way — they still intend to pursue life in prison. The ACLU explains the alarming injustice of this argument and how its success would “turn thousands of loyal soldiers into criminals.”
The judge denied the defense motions to consolidate and lessen the charges, but argued that the prosecution will have the burden of proving that Bradley Manning intentionally provided material to Al-Qaeda – when alleged chat logs clearly show Bradley’s intent was to inform the public and to inspire “worldwide discussion, debates, reforms.” Also, the judge rejected renewed calls for transparency, maintaining unprecedented secrecy in the effort to send a whistle-blower to prison for life. Bradley will return to Ft. Meade for the next hearing, scheduled June 6-8.
Supporters raised funds to place 21 ads throughout the Washington DC metro in time with the hearings, and demonstrations were organized internationally. Protests were held in Chicago, Ann Arbor, Salina, Cleveland, Portland, Washington DC, Brea, Dallas, Oakland, San Diego, Las Vegas, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Sydney, Vancouver, South Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, and of course Fort Meade. Over the course of the week the National Theatre Wales was also performing “The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning,” a play inspired by Bradley’s life and story.
Tuesday, April 24: Judge Denise Lind rejected a renewed request for transparency and the defense argued its motions to compel grand jury testimony and to dismiss all charges with prejudice. However, she granted in-camera review access to three damage assessments the defense requested – these assessments evaluate the harm, if any, caused by WikiLeaks’ releases.
Wednesday, April 25: The judge laid out a tentative schedule for the remaining pretrial hearings and the court martial itself, set to begin September 21. Then she denied the defense’s motions to compel grand jury testimony and to dismiss all charges. The defense argued two more motions to dismiss, and the ‘aiding the enemy’ charge and Bradley’s intentions were discussed. Supporters in the courtroom wore ‘Truth’ t-shirts and announced messages of support for Bradley.
Thursday, April 26: The prosecution motioned to gag any reference to the lack of harm caused by the released documents from further courtroom discussion. Closing the hearing, the judge denied the defense motion to dismiss the “aiding the enemy” charge. However, the prosecution’s burden of proof is raised: the government will have to prove Bradley knew America’s enemies would visit WikiLeaks.org specifically. Again, supporters thanked Bradley aloud for his steadfast courage.
New Trial Timeline
The judge laid out a tentative timeline for the remaining proceedings, again extending the trial timeline. This follows a long pattern of unreasonable trial delays whereby Bradley Manning has been in prison over 700 days. It will have been over two years before he reaches the actual court martial.
- June 6-8 Article 39 pre-trial hearing
- July 16-20 Article 39 pre-trial hearing
- August 27-31 Article 39 pre-trial hearing
- September 19-20 Article 39 pre-trial hearing
- September 21 – First day of court martial
- October 12 – Estimated completion of court martial
*all dates subject to change at the discretion of the military.
Demonstrations of Support
And with the help of over a hundred donors, supporters were able to place 21 metro ads in Washington DC in time for the hearings. They help bring Bradley’s case back to Washington DC, and into the public eye, as do the legion of supporters organizing demonstrations around the world.
On April 24th, 2012, protesters gathered in front of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, to protest against the brutal treatment of a number of political prisoners, including Mumia Abu-Jamal and Bradley Manning. The protest was organized by several community groups who shared the common goal of sending a strong message to Eric Holder to end solitary confinement, to stop torture, and to free all political prisoners. Bradley Manning was abused for 11 months in solitary confinement.
Guest speakers included Mumia Abu-Jamal who spoke by telephone from prison, M-1 of Dead Prez, Kevin Zeese of the Bradley Manning Support Network, and many others.
Occupy the Courtroom:
On Wednesday, April 25, Bradley Manning supporters amassed at the front gate outside Ft. Meade, where Bradley’s motion hearing continued. Some advocates for the Nobel Peace Prize nominee remained outside holding signs, while others filled the courtroom, wearing “Truth” t-shirts to symbolize that which has been withheld from the proceedings thus far.
Approximately 20 supporters of PFC Bradley Manning spilled over both sides of a small courtroom at Fort Meade, Md., the venue for a pre-trial hearing in the WikiLeaks case this afternoon at which Manning’s defense argued for dismissing charges against Manning.
About half of the Manning supporters had “truth” emblazoned across their shirts. Although their shirts spoke for them, at the very end of the hearing a few voices made their opinions audible.
A man yelled out, “Thank you, Bradley,” followed by, “Please free Bradley Manning.”
One woman yelled, “I think the military should go on trial.” Then another joined in, saying, “We need to know what our government’s doing.”