Group Plans Rally To Protest 35-Year Sentence For Bradley Manning

Supporters of former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Pfc. Bradley Manning are holding a rally in San Francisco this evening in protest of the 35-year sentence Manning received today following his conviction on espionage charges.

Organizers with the Bradley Manning Support Network and other groups plan to gather at Justin Herman Plaza at 5 p.m.

Manning was found guilty last month of more than a dozen counts, including violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property, for leaking classified information to the online group WikiLeaks.

A military judge this morning sentenced Manning to 35 years in prison. He had faced up to a 90-year term for the charges.

Rainey Reitman, co-founder of the Bradley Manning Support Network, said the sentence could have “a chilling effect on future whistleblowers.”

Reitman said, “This sentence sends a dangerous message that the Obama administration is treating people who blow the whistle on war crimes and leak important information to the public as if they were committing acts of espionage.”

Reitman said her group and Amnesty International have launched a joint campaign calling on the president to pardon Manning and allow his release.

Amnesty International officials said the information leaked by Manning included reports on battlefield detentions and footage of journalists and other civilians being killed in U.S. military helicopter attacks.

That information “should always have been subject to public scrutiny,” Amnesty International senior director of international law and policy Widney Brown said in a statement.

The prosecution of Manning, including on a charge of aiding the enemy for which he was found not guilty, “can only be seen as a harsh warning to anyone else tempted to expose government wrongdoing,” Brown said.

Along with the rally in San Francisco, protesters were also planning to gather elsewhere today, including outside the White House.

The Bradley Manning Support Network is raising money for the appeal of Manning’s sentence, according to Reitman.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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