Saturday will mark Army private Bradley Manning’s 1,000th day behind bars. Activists across the globe plan to use the day to draw attention to what they consider unjust detention.
Manning is accused of passing secret military intelligence to the WikiLeaks whistleblower site. Charges against him include computer fraud, espionage, and aiding the enemy. Although prosecutors have said they will not seek the death penalty, the charges could add up to life in prison for Manning.
What makes the 1,000th day important is that military law guarantees the right to a “speedy trial.” Specifically, Rule 707 from the Manual for Courts Martial mandates, “The accused shall be brought to trial within 120 days after” being detained or presented with charges.
Manning has spent more than eight times longer in prison without trial than the law allows. His trial is scheduled to finally begin on June 3.
Emma Cape, campaign organizer at the Bradley Manning Support Network and Courage to Resist, a group for serving military “war resisters,” explained the rationale used so far by the prosecution to explain the delay. Led by Major Ashden Fein, the prosecution “have at times argued it is a necessary delay due to the amount of evidence involved in this case,” Cape told the Daily Dot.
“Of course, the defense has argued that the prosecution has not done everything they could to procure evidence in a timely matter from various government departments,” she added.
“The length of time it took to obtain ‘damage assessments’ from various government departments, including the Department of State, which all showed essentially no damage (to national security), was the center of one such controversy.”
The military tends to take the “speedy trial” provision seriously. Cape calls such a delay as has been seen in the Manning case, “very uncommon.”
“No one else Courage to Resist has ever worked with” has seen this kind of delay. “(A)ll other delays that our Project Director, Jeff Paterson is aware of, were ones agreed upon by both sides, which is not the case for the majority of the delay in this case.”
There are more than 60 events and protests currently scheduled around the world, from Hawai’i to Vermont, Australia to Uganda. The largest, according to Cape, are likely to be those in New York City, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Images via Bradley Manning Support Network