Published on Tuesday, May 24, 2011 by The Guardian/UK
US Embassy Cables
: Obama May Have 'Prejudiced' Bradley Manning Trial
Remarks that 'Manning broke law' could prejudice army private's trial over leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks
by Robert Booth
US president Barack Obama may have prejudiced the trial of US army private Bradley Manning who is charged with leaking classified US documents to WikiLeaks, by saying at a fundraiser that Manning "broke the law", a leading British MP has warned.
human rights chaired a meeting on Tuesday about the plight of the alleged WikiLeaks source to coincide with Obama's state visit to
The fundraising where Obama was challenged about the
Manning, 23, is facing a long prison sentence after being charged with leaking highly embarrassing secret government documents about the conduct of the wars in
Manning was charged under the Uniform Code of Military Justice with "transferring classified data onto his personal computer and adding unauthorized software to a classified computer system in connection with the leaking of a video of a helicopter attack in Iraq in 2007," and "communicating, transmitting and delivering national defense information to an unauthorized source and disclosing classified information concerning the national defense with reason to believe that the information could cause injury to the United States."
Charges include wrongfully obtaining classified material for the purpose of posting it on the internet, knowing that the information would be accessed by the enemy; the illegal transmission of defence information; fraud; and aiding the enemy. The charges relate, among other things, to the alleged theft of more than 380,000 records from the US government's Combined Information Data Network Exchange database for Iraq, over 90,000 records from the same system for Afghanistan, more than 700 records from its Southern Command database about Guantanamo Bay and more than 250,000 records from the State Department's Net-Centric Diplomacy database, commonly known as the US Embassy cables.
Emily Butselaar, an editor at Index on Censorship, the free speech pressure group, said her organisation is also concerned that Obama may have prejudiced Manning's right to a fair trial by declaring he has broken the law.
"Despite making freedom of information and transparency key commitments of his presidential campaign, Obama's administration is cracking down on whistleblowers," she said.
"If there has to be a trial, it should be in public and not a closed military trial," Clwyd said.
A White House spokesman declined to comment citing the legal process that is underway.
Manning's detention for 23 hours a day in a tiny unfurnished cell at Marine Corps Base Quantico in
Juan E Mendez, a UN special rapporteur on torture, investigated his case and accused the
Last month, the Pentagon transferred Manning to a medium-security facility in
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs