Demonstrators supporting the soldier accused of passing hundreds of thousands of classified documents and cables to WikiLeaks plan to swarm on Fort Meade, Md., on Saturday.
Pfc. Bradley Manning pleaded guilty in February to 10 of the 22 counts he faced; on Monday his court-martial on the other counts begins. Those charges include aiding the enemy, for which the 25-year-old could receive life behind bars.
“After more than three years of imprisonment, including nine months of torture, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Bradley Manning’s trial will finally begin June 3, 2013, in military courtroom at Fort Meade, Maryland. The outcome of this trial will determine whether a conscience-driven 25-year-old WikiLeaks whistle-blower spends the rest of his life in prison. Bradley believed that the American people have a right to know the truth about what our government does around the world in our name. We will send a message to the military prosecuting authority, and President Obama, that Bradley Manning is a patriot and heroic truth-teller,” the Bradley Manning Support Network said in its call to rally carried by Anonymous and Indymedia, in addition to antiwar groups and 9/11 “truthers.”
Protesters are also planning to crash court proceedings by lining up at the visitor’s center early. “Your vehicle will be subject to search, and you may be required to cover over political bumper stickers on your vehicle,” Manning’s support group said. “Consider walking on base if there are any questions at all regarding your vehicle and paperwork.”
Fort Meade and local law enforcement officials are planning on closing the main gate of the base and could potentially close Maryland Highway 175 due to the demonstration.
“Supporters of Pfc. Manning have periodically held demonstrations throughout the pre-trial proceedings since they began in Nov. 2011,” the base said in an advisory. “The demonstrations have varied in size and all have been peaceful and orderly.”
Rally organizers are busing people in from D.C. and elsewhere and claim some protesters will be coming from other countries.