O n January 12, WikiLeaks tweeted “(i)f Obama grants Manning clemency Assange will agree to US extradition despite clear unconstitutionality of DoJ case.” He’s a political refugee, given asylum in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012, unable to leave because of fabricated rape charges.
A sealed indictment wrongfully charges him with spying under the long ago outdated 1917 Espionage Act, a WW I relic. He’s a conduit, not a spy, involved with others, publishing leaked material they’re given on vital issues. With Manning’s sentence commuted, will he agree to extradition as promised, knowing no chance of justice awaits him if handed to US authorities, sure to treat him as viciously as Manning. Following her commutation, WikiLeaks tweeted “Assange: ‘Thank you to everyone who campaigned for Chelsea Manning’s clemency. Your courage & determination made the impossible possible.”
In a separate statement, Assange said “Ms. Manning is a hero, whose bravery should be applauded. Journalists, publishers, and their sources serve the public interest and promote democracy by distributing authentic information on key matters such as human rights abuses and illegal acts by government officials. They should not be prosecuted.” Assange’s lawyer Melinda Taylor indicated he stands by his pledge to risk extradition to America. Did Obama commute Manning’s sentence so Washington could arrest and prosecute him? Will Trump pursue him as aggressively as Obama? Will Assange reconsider his pledge to remain safe, not sorry.
Confinement in Ecuador’s London embassy is far better than in a US maximum security prison, risking torture and other abusive treatment. He likely hoped promising to accept extradition would get Manning freed. He’ll remain in prison until May 17 – lots of time for Assange to decide his next move. He expressed confidence of a fair trial under Trump. It may be wishful thinking – a big gamble he risks losing.
Chelsea Manning to Be Freed ________________________________________
Manning was wrongfully arrested, imprisoned, horrifically treated, and sentenced to 35 years of brutalizing confinement for courageously exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Whistleblowers revealing government wrongdoing deserve high praise, not police state prosecution. Manning revealed important information all Americans have a right to know, including:
the Collateral Murder video, exposing the killing of unarmed Iraqi civilians by a US Apache helicopter crew;
the Afghan War Diary, revealing uninvestigated civilian casualties and private military contractor abuses;
the Iraq War Logs, revealing civilian casualties and uninvestigated reports of torture; along with
US diplomatic cables, explaining corporate interests and espionage in international diplomacy.
Manning received numerous honors and awards, including three Nobel Peace Prize nominations. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), military personnel are entitled to fair, speedy proceedings if charged with an offense. In April 2010, Manning was arrested, viciously treated, held in brutalizing pre-trial confinement for over three years before trial proceedings began – a flagrant 8th Amendment violation, prohibiting cruel and unusual punishment for any reason. On January 17, Obama commuted Manning’s sentence, effective May 17. He waited nearly seven years to do the right thing instead of intervening right away responsibly.
He’s done nothing to free countless other wrongfully held US political prisoners. They continue languishing under gulag conditions at home and abroad. He didn’t drop wrongful charges against whistleblowers Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, no clemency for wrongfully convicted Leonard Peltier, Mumia abu-Jamal, and dozens of other US political prisoners I’ve written about in detail. … Freeing Manning doesn’t change mass incarceration in America, or shut down its global network of torture prisons – domestically alone holding far greater numbers than any other country, including China with over four times the US population. America’s gulag prison system is the shame of the nation and high crime against humanity. Obama perpetuated an obscenity no just society would tolerate.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
STEPHEN LENDMAN lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com. His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” ( http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html ) Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.
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