Julian Assange has already been indicted for crimes under the Espionage Act that could result in 175 years incarceration. I have already spoken out against the extradition and prosecution of Julian Assange because his prosecution threatens freedom of the press. Rather than prosecuting a journalist for exposing war crimes and corruption, we should be prosecuting those who committed those crimes.
If the grand jury investigating Wikileaks continues until its expiration date in October 2020, Manning could be imprisoned for a total of 20 months and fines against her would total $440,000. Fines against her now total $20,000.
It is time for this investigation to end and for Manning to be released. She is taking a principled stand against the secret grand jury process of the United States. Grand juries are known as the “prosecutor’s darling” because the grand jury only hears the prosecutor’s version of events. Those who are the target of a grand jury investigation are not allowed to present their side of the story. Those who are witnesses before grand juries are not allowed to have a lawyer with them in the hearing room. Grand jury abuse has become all too common. Manning’s stand should lead to a re-evaluation of the grand jury system as she is putting a spotlight on this abusive prosecutorial tool.
Manning has angered the national security state because she leaked classified documents to Wikileaks that showed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, abuse of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay prison camp, and how the State Department serves US-based global corporations. Releasing these documents resulted in her being convicted and serving seven years out of a 35-year sentence in a military prison until her sentence was commuted by President Obama.
Manning is heroic not only for her role in exposing US militarism and the corrupt corporate-dominated US foreign policy, but also in the transgender rights movement and now the criminal justice reform movement. She deserves the support of all of us who support democratic rights in the United States and around the world and demand accountability for the atrocities of our military.
We call on those who oppose US militarism and those who support justice to speak out and organize mobilizations in support of Manning. People in the media and those who support Freedom of Speech and the Press should also be speaking out in her support. The silence of the political establishment from both major political parties indicates that Manning has not been forgiven for making public the truth about US foreign and military policy. It will be up to the people to build consensus in support of Manning so she can be released.