Bradley Manning supporters hold pre-trial rally outside Fort Meade
Young soldier goes on trial Monday, charged with ‘aiding the enemy’ over sharing information on US military with WikiLeaks
Supporters of accused WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning protested outside Fort Meade on Saturday just two days before the young soldier’s court martial opens at the army camp.
More than three years after he was arrested in relation to the largest leak of classified documents in US history, Manning will stand trial Monday over counts including “aiding the enemy” – a charge that could see him jailed for life with no chance of parole.
As a final show of support ahead of the court martial, pro-Manning activists staged a demonstration at the gates of Fort Meade near Baltimore over the weekend. Jeff Paterson, of the Bradley Manning Support Network, estimated Saturday that around 1,000 people had turned out for the rally.
As a succession of speakers address the crowd, sporadic chants of “Free Bradley Manning” broke out.
The 25-year-old soldier has been in custody since his arrest at a US military base in Iraq in May 2010. The arrest followed an investigation into the leak of hundreds of thousands of State Department cables and US army reports to whistleblowing site WikiLeaks
Manning has already pleaded guilty to one charge of transmitting digital information to WikiLeaks. But army prosecutors are seeking to convict him of a further 21 counts, including “aiding the enemy”. To get a guilty verdict on that charge, prosecutors must prove that he knowingly gave classified information to al-Qaida and affiliated terror groups.
The trial, which could go on for up to three months, represents the highest profile prosecution of an accused leaker of state secrets conducted under the presidency of Barack Obama.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]