Seventeen lawmakers from the European Parliament have called on President Barack Obama to put an end to the persecution of US soldier Bradley Manning accused of aiding the enemy after he handed over a bunch of sensitive military documents to the WikiLeaks website.
In an open letter to President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the group of seventeen praised Manning for shedding light on “evidence of human rights abuses and apparent war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“We hereby urge you to end the persecution of Bradley Manning, a young gay man who has been imprisoned for over three years, including ten months in solitary confinement, under conditions that the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez deemed ‘cruel and abusive.’ Bradley Manning has already suffered too much, and he should be freed as soon as humanly possible,” MEPs from Spain, France, Sweden, Germany, Portugal, Ireland, and Ukraine wrote.
The lawmakers specifically stressed that the “aiding the enemy” offense thrown at him by the US court martial would set a terrible precedent.
“To consider releasing information about war crimes to the public to be ‘aiding the enemy’ would be a terrible setback for the defense of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law worldwide,” they underscored.
“Army prosecutors closed their arguments in the case without having provided any real evidence that Bradley Manning aided the enemy, or that he intended to do so,” they said.
Army Pfc. Bradley Manning faces a potential life sentence for passing hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic cables to the transparency website WikiLeaks, which exposed America’s crimes in its wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and further abuses around the world.
The military judge in Manning’s trial is expected to deliver a final verdict today, July 30. The sentencing stage of the trial is expected to run for several weeks in August.
Manning faces life imprisonment if found guilty
The sentence a US court will pass upon Wikileaks informant Private Bradley Manning will show what fugitive former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden would get should he return to his country, a senior Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov said.
“When the sentence is passed upon Manning for handing files to the Wikileaks website, it would be clear what would await Snowden if he returned to the United States,” Alexei Pushkov, the head of the Russian lower house’s international committee, said on Twitter on Monday.
Snowden, who is wanted by the United States for leaking classified data about the US National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, formally requested temporary asylum in Russia on July 16. Washington has repeatedly called on Moscow to reject Snowden’s request for asylum and send him back to the United States to stand trial on charges of espionage and theft. – Voice of Russia, RIA, RT, Express Tribune, TASS, Scoop