Monday March 21, 2011
More than 30 people have been arrested outside a US marine base during a protest against the treatment of a detained army private accused of giving classified information to Wikileaks.
Bradley Manning is being held in solitary confinement at the Quantico base in Virginia awaiting trial on nearly two dozen charges, including aiding the enemy.The 23-year-old former intelligence analyst is accused of handing over confidential US military and government documents to the whistleblowing website.
He is suspected of leaking a military video showing an attack on unarmed men in Iraq, war logs from Iraq and Afghanistan and more than 250,000 state department cables.
Hundreds of people joined a rally outside Quantico, chanting “Free Bradley Manning” and holding banners that read “Caution: Whistleblower Torture Zone”.
Scuffles broke out when riot police tried to move demonstrators away from an intersection at the base entrance.
One of the 35 people arrested was Daniel Ellsberg, a Manning supporter who leaked the so-called Pentagon Papers about the Vietnam War in 1971.
The 79-year-old gave a speech at the rally and was quoted as saying: “I want Bradley Manning’s courage to be contagious.”
A report on the Bradley Manning Support Network website said protesters had tried to march to the Iwo Jima memorial to lay a wreath, but military officers stopped them.
In response the group began a spontaneous sit-in and refused to move, prompting local and military police to make arrests.
Colonel Thomas V Johnson, a spokesman for the Marine Corps at Quantico, said access to the memorial was denied because protest activity is not permitted on base grounds.
Earlier this month, chief state department spokesman PJ Crowley quit after he criticised the detention of Manning as “counterproductive and stupid”.
When President Barack Obama was asked about the matter, he said he had been assured by the Pentagon the conditions in which the private was being held were “appropriate”.