Having joined the US army in 2007 as an intelligence analyst, Bradley was arrested in Iraq on suspicion of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and has been held in detention without trial since. He stands accused of leaking the Collateral Murder video, footage which shows unarmed civilians being killed by US soldiers and which the US military had covered up, also the Afghan War Diary, described by the New York Times as "an unvarnished and grim picture of the Afghan war", the award-winning Iraq War Logs that reveal human rights abuses by coalition and Iraqi forces and hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables from US Embassies around the world that have proved highly embarrassing and revealing.During the pre-trial hearing, Bradley's civilian attorney David Coombs made much of his fragile mental state, gender identity issues, efforts to seek help and the incredibly lax security on the base. He also touched on Bradley's 'moral compass' and idealism. Opportunities for the defence to raise some of the most important issues in the case were limited, partly because permission to call most of the defence witnesses for this hearing was refused including President Obama who has already declared that Bradley Manning broke the law. As Obama is Commander-in-Chief of the military, this comment effectively jeopardises Bradley's chances of a fair hearing at court martial.
Bradley was tortured in detention for at least nine months until moved to a less punitive regime in April 2011. The torture was extra-judicial punishment and very likely aimed (unsuccessfully) at persuading him to implicate Julian Assange of WikiLeaks in return for more favourable treatment. The torture of Bradley Manning, Obama's prejudicial declaration of his guilt and possible other 'undue command influence', the nature of much of the leaked material, including that which contains evidence of war crimes, along with the general principle of protecting whistle-blowers as stated by Obama during his presidential election campaign, are all arguments for charges against Bradley Manning to be dropped and for his detention to be ended. It's not going to happen without a huge public outcry though: in spite of his fine words, Obama has prosecuted more whistle-blowers during his term in office than have been prosecuted during all previous US administrations put together.I wrote this article calling for Welsh solidarity with Bradley Manning almost a year ago. Since then, there has been some action for Bradley Manning in Wales for us to build on:
The international day of action on 20 March was marked in Wrexham with a vigil and on the same day young people from Pembrokeshire attended and spoke at a rally for Bradley Manning at the US Embassy in London. A few days later, a public meeting was held in Pembrokeshire. Efforts were made to contact Bradley Manning's family in Wales to offer support. Supporters organised a benefit gig in Pembrokeshire in April. Stalls and solidarity letter-writing events have been organised in Wrexham and beyond through the year. A number of public bodies and figures have made statements of support for Bradley Manning or expressed their concern for his welfare, for example Cytun: Churches Together in Wales and poet Les Barker. South Wales Friends of Bradley Manning started an online petition in October calling for the Welsh Assembly to issue a public statement of support; the petition is listed for discussion at the Senedd on 10 January. Over the past year, many people have written to their political representatives about Bradley Manning and Welsh MEPs were among the 64 who signed a letter to President Obama in November setting out serious concerns about Bradley's detention and mistreatment. Tim Price of National Theatre Wales has written a play, The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, which will be performed in Welsh schools during April 2012, starting with Tasker Milward high school in Haverfordwest, where Bradley was a pupil. 16-19 December saw four days of action in Wales (Wrexham and Cardiff) to mark Bradley's pre-trial hearing and his 24th birthday, with many messages of solidarity collected. We know that lots of people have also written individual letters of support to Bradley in detention.WISE Up for Bradley Manning (WISE = Welsh, Irish, Scottish, English) is a loose network of people working to build solidarity with Bradley, increase awareness of his case and to campaign for his freedom. To do this we need your help! Please get in touch by email at email@example.com or call 0845 330 4505.
You can keep up to date with news about Bradley's case at the international support website: www.bradleymanning.org