Alexa O'Brien has become known as a "one-woman court record system" for her extensive coverage of whistleblower Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning's trial. She has also covered the WikiLeaks release of US State Department Cables, the Guantanamo Files, the global "war on terror" and the Arab Spring. This is an edited extract from a speech she gave to a public forum called “Defending Dissent: from Manning to Occupy” in Sydney on September 17. The full forum can be watched here. ***
You may have heard of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden and US army private Chelsea (formerly known as Bradley) Manning, who both leaked large amounts of secret US government information, and wondered what all the fuss was about. Well, not much, if you ask Australian attorney-general Mark Dreyfus.
The US army whistleblower formerly known as Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for releasing thousands of classified military documents to WikiLeaks. In a statement after the sentencing, Manning announced her decision to transition to life as a woman and requested to be called Chelsea. The Sydney Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition released this statement on August 22. ***
Support WikiLeaks and Assange Coalition released this statement on July 31. *** The conviction of US Private First Class Bradley Manning for 19 offences, including five counts of espionage, is a travesty of justice. Manning is not a spy who betrayed his country, but a courageous whistleblower who acted on his conscience when he leaked US government documents to WikiLeaks. He should have been commended, not prosecuted, for revealing evidence of war crimes, human rights abuses and corruption.
US military lead prosecutor Major Ashden Fein summed up his case against Bradley Manning for "aiding the enemy" with these chilling words: "He was not a troubled young soul. He was a determined soldier with the knowledge, ability and desire to harm the United States in its war effort. "Your honor, he was not a whistleblower, he was traitor." We totally disagree. Manning witnessed a terrible crime and he reported it to the people of the world using the most effective available news medium — WikiLeaks.
The Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition released this statement on March 4. *** On March 2, the Sydney Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition (SAWC) entered their 100-people walking float in Sydney’s Mardi Gras parade. Supporters came from all over Australia to help raise awareness of the plights of Bradley Manning's and Julian Assange. Participants in the first section of the float held up an image of Bradley and chanted “Free Bradley Manning”, whilst carrying banners displaying the website bradleymanning.org.
The Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition (SAWC) is inviting people to join their float in this year’s Mardi Gras parade on March 2. Spokesperson Linda Pearson said: “SAWC is entering a float in this year’s Mardi Gras to raise awareness about Bradley Manning and Julian Assange, and to demonstrate our solidarity with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex communities. We also wanted to offer our supporters this opportunity to take part in what will be a unique and enjoyable event.
On December 17, activists gathered in Perth’s city centre for a speakout as part of an international day of action for accused Wikileaks' whistleblower Bradley Manning. The action defied attempts by the Perth City Council to close down stalls and take down banners for the action. In May 2010, 24 year old Bradley Manning was arrested over suspicion of leaking secret US military and government documents to Wikileaks.
After the initial furore of the release of thousands of secret United States embassy cables by WikiLeaks, much of the mainstream media coverage has largely ignored or hidend the most important aspect of the saga ― the damning contents of the secret documents that incriminate the powerful and expose their lies. Much of the coverage has devolved into negative stories and allegations about the personal lives of WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange and the alleged source of the secret US documents, Bradley Manning.
The editor-in-chief of whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, told the Belfast Telegraph that the United States was working behind the scenes to put WikiLeaks and himself out of business. He said: “The United States has brought out to the public an extremely aggressive response. In private, it is also doing other things. “That response has been the most aggressive response to an international publisher ever.” See also:
A request by the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, to visit alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower, United States soldier Bradley Manning, was denied in April. At the time, Manning was being held in solitary confinement at Marine Corps Brig, Quantico in Virginia. Speaking through his lawyer, Manning accused the guards at Quantico of treating him differently to other prisoners and reported he had been forced to strip naked by guards every night. Mendez said US authorities had “not been receptive to a confidential meeting” with Manning.
Below is an abridged version of a speech by NSW Greens MLC David Shoebridge in Sydney on April 10. The action was part of an international weekend of solidarity calling for an end to the persecution of alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning. **** First, I'd like to acknowledge that this is Aboriginal land that we are standing on. It always has been, always will be Aboriginal land. And in fact sovereignty has never been ceded over this land that we are standing on here today.
The US Army announced on March 2 that it has charged 22-year-old Private First Class Bradley Manning with a further 22 charges. Manning is being held on suspicion of having leaked classified information to WikiLeaks. One of the new charges is “aiding the enemy”. This means Manning could face the death penalty if convicted. So far, Pentagon and military officials have found no direct link between Manning and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.