Target: US Department of Justice; US Department of Defense
Goal: To obtain a fair military trial for accused whistle-blower Bradley Manning by making court documents and transcripts open for public access.
Bradley Manning, the US Army Private arrested for providing government documents to Wikileaks, is in danger of being denied his right to a fair trial. Manning has now been incarcerated without charges since June of 2010 because of his alleged involvement in the leaking of confidential military documents. Government attorneys have been extremely secretive in planning their prosecution of Manning, making pleadings and transcripts of prior court hearings unavailable to the public, and making vital documents required for the trial unavailable to defense attorneys. The court has also limited the number of reporters and press personnel who can attend, meaning that the public has very little access to what happens during trial.
The First Amendment guarantees the public’s “right to access” certain information in criminal trials; however, according to the presiding judge during a pre-trial hearing, “the right to an open trial is not absolute.” This could very easily jeopardize the rights of Manning, as well as putting future whistleblowers, protestors, and government dissidents in danger of secretive, unlawful trails.
The United Nations special rapporteur for torture has already condemned the American justice system for its exploitation of Manning’s case, claiming “cruel, inhumane, and degrading treatment” including solitary confinement for as many as 23 hours a day.
By signing this petition to open this information up to the public and allow reporters greater access to the trial, you are forcing the government to be more accountable for its actions, ultimately ensuring Manning and others like him in the future, a more fair trial.
Dear US Department of Justice and the US Department of Defense:
I am writing to urge you to protect Private Bradley Manning in his upcoming military hearings and ensure that his right to a fair trial is upheld.
Because of the confidentiality inherent in the work of the Defense department, there is concern that access to information regarding Manning’s trail will not be made public. This secrecy will put him at serious risk of being bullied by government attorneys, who have had unrestricted access to preparatory documents that defense attorneys have not seen. With no public eye on this trial, it is feared that the lack of accountability will lead the government to abuse its powers and result in an unfair and undeserved verdict for the defense.
Please act to ensure Bradley Manning receives a fair tribunal by increasing media coverage of the trail and ensuring that all relevant documents are made available to the public according to the First Amendment’s right of access.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Blogotron via Wikimedia Commons