Arraignment date set for Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning

WASHINGTON, DC — The United States Army announced that a formal arraignment date has been set for PFC Bradley Manning. The arraignment has been scheduled for 01:00 PM EST, February 23, 2012 at Fort Meade, Maryland. This arraignment will set the dates for a series of hearings on pre-trial motions, as well as the start of the full court-martial.

“Bradley Manning’s show trial will begin in earnest with this arraignment,” said Jeff Paterson, a lead organizer with the Bradley Manning Support Network. “If the Obama administration was the least bit concerned with providing a fair trial, they would have allowed the defense to explore critical issues, such as unlawful command influence, over-classification, and the torturous conditions to which PFC Manning has been subjected while in their custody. If they were concerned about justice, they would drop the charges against Bradley Manning and prosecute those whose crimes have been revealed.”

Military officials have routinely blocked requests by Manning’s defense team, led by Iraq war veteran David Coombs, for access to evidence and witnesses that could explore these and other relevant issues. During the Article 32 proceedings held in December, the defense was largely restricted by military officials to a discussion of mitigating factors related to Manning’s emotional health. The defense is expected to renew their requests through additional motions leading up to the court-martial.

The arraignment comes as PFC Manning was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize by members of the Icelandic Parliament. A blog post by MP Birgitta Jónsdóttir explained their rationale for the nomination:

“According to journalists, his alleged actions helped motivate the democratic Arab Spring movements, shed light on secret corporate influence on our foreign policies, and most recently contributed to the Obama Administration agreeing to withdraw all U.S. troops from the occupation in Iraq.”

Organizers with the Bradley Manning Support Network expect the court-martial to begin as early as May. Hundreds of supporters demonstrated outside the Article 32 hearings. Organizers say that the Obama administration can expect even larger numbers at the court-martial.