The United States Army scheduled an Article 32 pretrial hearing for PFC Bradley Manning, the Army intelligence specialist accused of releasing classified material to WikiLeaks. The pretrial hearing will commence on December 16 at Fort Meade, Maryland. (Army News Release PDF)
This will be PFC Manning’s first appearance before a court and the first time he will face his accusers after 17 months in confinement. In a blog post this morning, Manning’s lead counsel, David Coombs, notified supporters that the pretrial phase is scheduled to last five days.
Here is the full text of his update:
“The Article 32 hearing for PFC Bradley Manning will begin on December 16, 2011 at Fort Meade, Maryland. The hearing is expected to last approximately five days. With the exception of those limited times where classified information is being discussed, the hearing will be open to the public.
The primary purpose of the Article 32 hearing is to evaluate the relative strengths and weaknesses of the government’s case as well as to provide the defense with an opportunity to obtain pretrial discovery. The defense is entitled to call witnesses during the hearing and to also cross examine the government’s witnesses. Each witness who testifies is placed under oath; their testimony can therefore be used during the trial for impeachment purposes or as prior testimony should the witness become unavailable.
Our office is committed to providing the best representation for PFC Manning during this upcoming hearing. Achieving this goal is the sole focus of the lawyers, experts, and administrative staff working on this case. Given our focus, we will not be granting any media interviews or responding to any media inquiries. However, recognizing the public’s interest and the growing support for PFC Manning, we will be issuing regular public releases. The goal of these releases is to keep PFC Manning’s supporters informed and to assist the media in providing accurate information about this case.” (link)
Supporters will be present outside Fort Meade when he arrives on December 16 and as part of a day of action on his 24th birthday, December 17.
“The charges against Bradley Manning are an indictment of our government’s obsession with secrecy,” said Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers and accelerated the end of hostilities in Vietnam forty years ago. “Manning is accused of revealing illegal activities by our government and its corporate partners that must be brought to the attention of the American people. The Obama administration lacks the courage to confront the crimes and injustices that now stand exposed.”
Manning’s supporters assert that the information he is accused of making public was wrongly and illegally classified, and that whoever leaked the information should be protected as a whistle-blower. The WikiLeaks revelations include the “Collateral Murder” video, which shows the killing of Iraqi civilians and Reuters journalists, as well as diplomatic cables that have embarrassed governments and corporations around the world. Another cable related to the cover-up of a war crime contributed to the early exit of troops from Iraq by the end of this year.
PFC Manning’s confinement conditions drew strong reactions and protests from legal scholars, politicians, and human rights advocates from around the world. He was confined for ten months at a Quantico Marine base, where he faced extreme conditions in which he was forced to stand naked and was kept in isolation. P.J. Crowley, then-spokesperson for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was forced to resign after he called Manning’s treatment “ridiculous, counterproductive and stupid.” Juan Mendez, the United Nations’ rapporteur on torture, still seeks to meet with Manning, unmonitored, as part of an official investigation of evidence of abuse.
The Bradley Manning Support Network will continue to provide updates as they become available.