Bradley Manning 'hailed a hero' on arrest anniversary

First published in News

A YEAR to the day that a young American soldier with strong Pembrokeshire links was arrested and accused of leaking classified information, some internationally known advocates held a teleconference to discuss his case.

The Western Telegraph was in on the call as WikiLeaks editor in chief Julian Assange and the man at the heart of leaking Pentagon Papers relating to the Vietnam war, Daniel Ellsberg, spoke of former Tasker Milward pupil Bradley Manning as a “hero.”

Bradley’s mother and several other family members still live in Pembrokeshire.

Also taking part were Government Accountability Project attorney Jesselyn Raddack, retired Lt Colonel of the US Army Ann Wright, attorney with the Bradley Manning Support Network Kevin Zeese and activist, Christina McKenna, arrested at a protest in support of Bradley.

It is believed that a pre-trial hearing into Bradley’s Court Marshal is to be held this month, with the full case to be heard in winter.

Mr Ellsberg said: “I was the Bradley Manning of my day,”

adding that he admired the 23-year-old.

It was the validity of a fair trial which dominated the discussion following a statement by American President Barack Obama that Bradley “broke the law”.

Mr Ellsberg said the statement was “grossly improper”

and could lead to a call for a mistrial.

Mr Zeese said President Obama is the Commander-inchief and “the only way the military can claim there is no undue influence in this case would be a charade, a charade with officers claiming they are not listening to their Commander-in-chief.

“The military have ruled over and over that if undue influence can be proven the case should be dropped.”

Bradley faces 22 charges, including ‘aiding the enemy’.

Mr Assange described the treatment of Bradley, described as abusive by Amnesty International, as “a sledge hammer to crack a nut”.

He added: “Bradley Manning, like all true heroes did not crack.”

Bradley is now held at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where he has greater interaction with fellow inmates.

“Little did we realise that our greatest struggle would come in 2010 when we tried to bring the first amendment to the USA. We’ve seen this struggle play out in the national media and behind bars, where Bradley Manning has been for one year,” added Mr Assange.

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