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Urge President Obama to pardon Chelsea/Bradley Manning

 Urge President Barack Obama to pardon whistleblower and human rights defender Private Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.

 “President Obama has the power to pardon Chelsea Manning. She’s already spent over three years in prison, initially being harshly mistreated. That’s more than enough punishment. Help us press for a presidential pardon by signing the petition and tweeting Barack Obama,” urged Peter Tatchell, Director of the human rights advocacy organisation the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

“Manning exposed human rights abuses by the US military. She is a courageous human rights defender and should not be in prison.  One aspect of Manning’s commitment to human rights is her active support for LGBT equality. She participated in LGBT Pride marches and campaigned against the homophobic US military policy, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’. In 2008, she attended a rally in New York to oppose attempts to ban same-sex marriage in California. The LGBT community should rally to support her. She is a hero,” said Mr Tatchell.

Background briefing from the Manning Support Network

As an Intelligence Analyst stationed in Iraq, Pvt. Manning had access to some of America’s dirtiest secrets – human rights crimes such as torture, illegal surveillance, and corruption – often committed in our name. Manning acted on conscience alone, with selfless courage and conviction, and gave these secrets to us, the public.

 “I believed that if the general public had access to the information contained within the [Iraq and Afghan War Logs] this could spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy,” Manning explained to the military court. “I wanted the American public to know that not everyone in Iraq and Afghanistan were targets that needed to be neutralized, but rather people who were struggling to live in the pressure cooker environment of what we call asymmetric warfare.”

 Journalists used these documents to uncover many startling truths. We learned:

  Donald Rumsfeld and General Petraeus helped support torture in Iraq.

 Deliberate civilian killings by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan went unpunished.

 Thousands of civilian casualties were never acknowledged publicly.

 Most Guantanamo detainees were innocent.

For defending human rights and democratic transparency, Manning was sentenced by military judge Colonel Denise Lind to 35 years in prison.

 Government secrecy has grown exponentially during the past decade, but more secrecy does not make us safer when it fosters unaccountability and cover-ups.

 Pvt. Manning was convicted of Espionage Act charges for providing WikiLeaks with  information about human rights abuses, but the prosecutors noted that they would have done the same had the information been given to The New York Times. Prosecutors did not show that enemies used this information against the US, or that the releases resulted in any casualties.

Pvt. Manning’s human rights have been violated. She has already been punished, in violation of military law. Manning has been: Held in confinement since May 29, 2010.

Subjected to illegal punishment amounting to inhumane ill-treatment for nearly nine months at Quantico Marine Base, Virginia, in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), Article 13 – facts confirmed by both the United Nation’s lead investigator on torture and by military judge Col. Lind.

Denied a speedy trial in violation of UCMJ, Article 10, having been imprisoned for over three years before trial.

Denied anything resembling a fair trial when prosecutors were allowed to change the charge sheet to match evidence presented, and enter new evidence, after closing arguments.

Pvt. Manning believed President Obama when he came into office promising the most transparent administration in history, and that he would protect whistle-blowers.