WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning’s incarceration under dehumanising conditions continues

In the last 1,000 days, four of the world’s five largest economies held elections, with China heralding in a once- in-a-decade leadership change; a wave of revolution spread through the Arab world, toppling autocratic regimes; Syria has been ravaged by a civil war that has killed an estimated 70,000 people and shows no signs of abating; Osama bin Laden was bumped off by U.S. Navy Seals in a daring raid in Pakistani territory; the world held its breath as Japan almost faced a nuclear meltdown; the Occupy movements generated a new grammar of protests against the profligacy of their governments. The list is unending.

All this time U.S. Army soldier Pfc. Bradley Manning, who allegedly blew the whistle on the excesses committed by the U.S. in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world, has been in prison suffering dehumanising treatment meted out by the U.S. military. Mr. Manning, who is celebrated as the source behind the largest intelligence leak in U.S. history was arrested a month after WikiLeaks released a military video showing a helicopter gunning down a number of civilians, including two Reuters journalists.

Then began his Kafkaesque nightmare. At his pre-trial hearing he described how during his detention in Kuwait he was locked up in“animal cages.” From there, Mr. Manning was transferred to the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia where he was put on suicide watch and held in solitary confinement for one whole year, despite a psychiatrist testifying that he posed no such risk.

Mr. Manning, who is facing a life sentence in military prison, has been charged with aiding and abetting “the enemy.” During the pre-trial hearing in January his whistleblower defence was denied, barring him from presenting evidence regarding his motive or to establish that WikiLeaks caused little or no damage to U.S. national security.

Speaking to The Hindu, Nathan Fuller of the Bradley Manning Support Network, which fully funds Mr. Manning’s legal costs, said by preventing the defence from “proving Manning had noble and patriotic motives in passing these documents to WikiLeaks the government doesn’t want Manning’s motive to come to light in court because that would undermine their ludicrous claim that Manning intended to ‘indirectly aid the enemy’.”

Supporters in 40 cities across the U.S., Europe and Australia held rallies, marches, vigils, concerts, and art installations on February 23 to mark the 1000th day of the whistleblower’s incarceration.

Though the toll that it has taken on Mr. Manning is unfathomable, Mr. Fuller said he has been in much better spirits since being shifted to the medium security prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. “When he [Mr. Manning] testified about his treatment in November 2012 at a pre-trial hearing, he was articulate, compelling, and even charming. He was clearly in good spirits and he’s visibly eager to fight this case at every turn.”

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