Open Letter from Members of the European Parliament to President Barack Obama and US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel
As Members of the European Parliament, who were elected to represent our constituents throughout Europe, we are writing to express our concerns about the ongoing persecution of Bradley Manning, the young U.S. soldier who released classified information revealing evidence of human rights abuses and apparent war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The U.S. Army has charged Private First Class Manning with 21 different crimes, including ‘Aiding the Enemy’; a capital charge. To convict a person who leaked information to the media of “Aiding the Enemy” would set a terrible precedent. Although we understand the US government is not seeking the death penalty for Bradley Manning, there would be nothing to stop this from happening in future cases. As it is, PFC Manning faces the possibility of life in prison without parole, recently rejected as “inhuman and degrading treatment” by the European Court of Human Rights.
On July 2nd, Army prosecutors closed their arguments in the case without having provided any real evidence that Bradley Manning aided the enemy, or that he intended to do so. In his defense against those charges to which he pleaded not guilty, PFC Manning was not permitted to bring any evidence of motivation. And in a statement calling on the court to allow a ‘public interest’ defense, Amnesty International said that this was ‘disturbing…as he has said he reasonably believed he was exposing human rights and humanitarian law violations. Moreover, the prosecution provided no evidence that PFC Manning caused harm to U.S. national security or to US and NATO troops.
We agree with Amnesty International that the U.S. government should immediately drop the most serious charges against PFC Bradley Manning, and that to charge Bradley Manning with ‘aiding the enemy’ is ‘ludicrous’ – a ‘travesty of justice’ which ‘makes a mockery of the US military court system’.
“We’ve now seen the evidence presented by both sides, and it’s abundantly clear that the charge of ‘aiding the enemy’ has no basis,”