After more than 3 years of pretrial confinement, the trial of military whistle-blower and democracy advocate PVT Chelsea Manning (known publicly as Bradley Manning until her Aug 22, 2013 announcement) finished on August 21st. With her sentence of 35 years, this case sets a dangerous precedent for the first amendment, opening whistle-blowers and those who help them to extreme prosecution. 

Nobel Peace Prize nominee PVT Manning is the 25-year-old Army intelligence analyst who released the Collateral Murder video that exposed the killing of unarmed civilians and two Reuters journalists, by a US Apache helicopter crew in Iraq. Manning also shared documents, known as the Afghan War Diary, the Iraq War Logs, and series of embarrassing US diplomatic cables. She stated these documents were some of the most important historical documents of our time. These documents were published by the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, and they have illuminated such issues as the true number and cause of civilian casualties in Iraq, along with a number of human rights abuses by U.S.-funded contractors and foreign militaries, and the role that spying and bribes play in international diplomacy. Given the war crimes exposed by these documents, PVT Manning should be given a medal of honor.

On July 30, 2013 she was found not guilty of the most serious charge against her, that of “Aiding the Enemy’, however she was convicted of 20 offenses, including 6 under the Espionage Act. On August 21, 2013 PVT Manning was given a particularly harsh sentence of 35 years in prison: a clear message to anyone who might oppose and expose government illegalities.

After having already spent more than 3 years in pretrial confinement, her supporters continue to demand her release. Among the supporters is the famous whistle-blower, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971. Recognizing the valor required to tell the truth, Ellsberg calls PVT Chelsea Manning a hero and a patriot. We agree, free PVT Chelsea Manning. Immediately following the 35 year sentence announcement, the Private Manning Support Network along with Amnesty International launched a petition to President Obama and the White House demanding clemency for PVT Manning, and set up a “Pardon PVT Manning” campaign website where supporters can submit photos holding signs of support.