FT. MEADE, Md. -- On the second day of Bradley Manning’s Army court-martial, WikiLeaks head Julian Assange came to his defense, criticizing the case as a "show" trial and contending he too is being persecuted simply for his efforts as a journalist to reveal the inner workings of the U.S. government’s war on terrorism.
“The government has prepared for a good show,” Assange wrote Tuesday from his sanctuary inside the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. “The trial is to proceed for 12 straight weeks; a fully choreographed extravaganza with a 141-strong cast of prosecution witnesses.”
In his lengthy statement released by his U.S. publicist, Assange argued that Pfc. Manning, accused of leaking more than 700,000 classified documents to Assange’s website, was denied a speedy trial after his arrest three years ago, must face two dozen prosecution witnesses who will testify in closed proceedings and have to defend himself against government evidence entered in closed sessions as well.
“Closed justice is no justice at all,” Assange said. He said the verdict “was ordained long ago,” and that the court-martial will be “a show of wasteful vengeance, a theatrical warning to people of conscience.”
In a broader sense, Assange maintained that the court-martial already has become a mockery of a free and open judicial process, and that the government is attempting to chill press freedoms.
“When communicating with the press is aiding the enemy it is the general knowledge among the people itself which has become criminal," he said. "Just as Bradley Manning is condemned, so too is that spirit of liberty in which America was founded.”
On Monday, the trial’s opening day, prosecutors sought to characterize Manning, facing a life sentence if convicted, as closely linked with Assange in orchestrating the downloading and transmission of government reports, videos and diplomatic cables.
Assange remains inside the embassy under threat of sex charges in Sweden, and the possible extradition by U.S. authorities to face prosecution in this country.