WikiLeaks' Assange condemns Manning verdict, Obama

LONDON Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:17pm EDT

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of Ecuador's Embassy, in central London December 20, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes a speech from the balcony of Ecuador's Embassy, in central London December 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

LONDON (Reuters) - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange accused President Barack Obama of "national security extremism" on Tuesday after an American military judge convicted Bradley Manning over the biggest leak of classified documents in U.S. history.

Praising Manning as "the most important journalistic source that the world has ever seen", Assange said the U.S. soldier, who prosecutors said had supplied WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents, did not receive a fair trial and called for the verdict to be overturned.

"The government kept Bradley Manning in a cage, stripped him naked and isolated him in order to break him, an act formally condemned by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for torture. This was never a fair trial," Assange said from inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, his home for more than a year.

Assange said WikiLeaks and Manning's own legal team would not rest until the judgment was overturned.

"It is a dangerous precedent and an example of national security extremism. It is a short-sighted judgment that cannot be tolerated and it must be reversed."

Assange did not confirm or deny whether Manning had in fact supplied WikiLeaks with classified documents, always using the word "alleged" when talking about the leak. WikiLeaks did not reveal its sources, he said, and always protected them.

Manning's conviction on five espionage and 14 other charges poses a potential problem for Assange since the severity of the judgment, which carries a jail sentence of up to 136 years, might deter would-be whistleblowers, the lifeblood of Assange's organization.

It is also a reminder of his own fate. Wanted in Sweden on sexual abuse allegations he denies, Assange has sought sanctuary in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London because he fears he would be extradited to the United States to face trial over his own alleged role in the leak case if he agreed to go to Sweden.

Manning's is one of two high-profile leak cases involving Americans. Former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden has been holed up at a Moscow airport for more than a month, despite U.S. calls for Russian authorities to turn him over.

Dressed in a dark suit, Assange said Obama had initiated more espionage proceedings cases against whistleblowers and publishers than all previous U.S. presidents combined and had made a mockery of his own words in the process.

"In 2008, the then presidential candidate Barack Obama ran on a platform that praised whistleblowing as an act of courage and patriotism. That platform has by Barack Obama's actions been comprehensively betrayed," said Assange.

Assange had nothing but praise for Manning, holding up his behavior as a model of how to be a whistleblower.

"His actions as alleged are unquestionably heroic. He in that sense is an example for others to follow."

(Editing by Doina Chiacu)

(This story was refiled to fix punctuation in the headline)

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Comments (15)
matthewcooke wrote:
A BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE BRADLEY MANNING CASE

During America’s illegal invasion of Iraq (over WMDs that were never found) American forces were routinely handing Iraqi citizens over to Iraqi forces who routinely tortured them.

In the days leading up to the war, of course, the United States frequently cited the Saddam Hussein regime’s practice of torture as a NEW reason for invading. Now America was engaging in widespread torture.

Faced with this knowledge, Private Manning felt “helpless,” he said “That was a point where I was…actively involved in something that I was completely against.”

In sum, Manning found himself in the classic, excruciating dilemma of the decent person enmeshed in an abhorrent system, not as a victim but as a perpetrator. By following the rules, he would be an accomplice of torture. Only by breaking the rules could he do the right thing. He reported it — to the boss of the American government: the American people.

And so the government tortured Manning for it – keeping him for over 9 months naked in a 6×8 ft cell for 23 to 24 hours a day where he faced abusive conditions in military detention while waiting for trial for over 1,000 days.

After torturing Manning for exposing the truth about US government war crimes the government did not investigate their crimes, they prosecuted Manning. A judge found him guilty of multiple acts of espionage — which absurdly only makes sense if you consider Manning an American citizen spying on his government on our behalf.

The American people accepted the US governments actions in torturing Manning, prosecuting and sentencing him. And many American citizens, confused and blinded by their warmongering masters called Manning a traitor. And kept paying their salaries through their ever dwindling pay check taxes.

But I guess like Bob Dylan says — it’s all good.

Jul 30, 2013 8:52pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
pancholinaso wrote:
The next thing you see this fella do is go in the streets yelling at top of his longs all the stolen secrets from both Manning and Snowden to the world ! And then they will not be secrets anymore , First in England and then right here in the States ! The world is listening Assange !Get out of there and fight for your hero friends ! Do you have it in you ? I didn’t think so !

Jul 30, 2013 8:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
GreenLine wrote:
Who says what these people are doing is whistle-blowing. That implies that the government is wrong in every case, and that’s simply not necessarily true. Call these people suppliers not whistle-blowers. In some cases there is nothing to whistle-blow on which means they are supplying top-secret information, which they should not be doing in some cases, but they are not necessarily whistle-blowing.

Jul 30, 2013 8:57pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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