Supporters erect Washington DC billboard ahead of pending trial announcement
WASHINGTON, DC — Supporters of PFC Bradley Manning have erected a billboard in Washington, DC as the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower awaits an announcement about the military’s plans for his trial at nearby Fort Meade, Maryland. The billboard, which reads, “Free Bradley Manning: Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime” is located on the route to downtown Washington from Fort Meade, near 1240 New York Ave NE. Supporters have displayed similar billboards in the Kansas City area, where Manning had been held at Fort Leavenworth.
PFC Bradley Manning is awaiting a recommendation from investigating officer Lt. Col. Paul Almanza as to which charges the military will refer to a full trial. His legal team expects this announcement to come before January 16, with the actual trial date to be set at some point several weeks later. PFC Manning’s attorneys have requested that the over two dozen charges against the accused whistle-blower be reduced to only three charges that would be considered at trial.
Supporters have argued that the military never intended to give PFC Manning a fair trial. Among the evidence for their claims, supporters have cited the abusive pre-trial punishment endured by the former Army intelligence analyst while held for ten months in solitary confinement at a Marine brig in Quantico, Virginia; President Obama’s public declaration of Manning’s guilt at an April 2010 fundraiser; as well as the administration’s decision to withhold key evidence that could exonerate Manning, such as internal administration assessments showing the WikiLeaks revelations posed no threat to national security.