FORT MEADE, Md. (CBSDC/AP) — Several Hollywood celebrities released a video showing support for Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of giving thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Oliver Stone, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Peter Sarsgaard and Russell Brand were among those that took part in the “I Am Bradley Manning” video.
“When you see something that’s so wrong, it’s very hard for a lower-level soldier to turn on his officers and say, ‘There was a war crime here,’” Stone said.
The website supporting Manning states that he has been held unjustly for the past 1,106 days.
“The information that Bradley gave to the public has been a catalyst for pro-democracy movements in the Arab world, exposed the unjust detainment of innocent people at Guantanamo Bay, shown us the true human cost of our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and changed journalism forever,” the website says.
Tom Morello, guitarist for Audioslave and Rage Against The Machine, called on supporters to help breaking Manning out of jail.
“If you know nothing about Bradley Manning, you should find out, and then you should help me bust him out of jail,” Morello said.
Pfc. Manning is charged under federal espionage and computer fraud laws, but the most serious offense the military has accused him of is aiding the enemy, which carries a life sentence.
On Wednesday, Jihrleah Showman, an intelligence analyst who worked with Manning in Baghdad, testified soldiers who were looking at classified materials watched movies at work, played computer games and listened to music before a commander found out and ordered them to stop.
Showman, a witness for the prosecution, also said analysts had access to many kinds of information, but that didn’t mean they were allowed to look at all of it.
“It was your responsibility to look at things you needed,” she said. “Just because you had a secret clearance doesn’t mean you have legal access to see everything that has secret classification over it.”
Shortly before his arrest, Manning was disciplined for punching Showman in the face in what she has described as one of several violent outbursts both before and during their deployment. She did not testify about the punch but could be recalled later.
Manning, 25, has admitted turning over hundreds of thousands of classified documents. His lawyer has called him a “young, naive but good-intentioned” soldier, but prosecutors say he put secrets directly into the hands of Osama bin Laden.
His trial, which is being heard by a judge instead of a jury, is expected to run all summer.
The trial for the soldier from Crescent, Okla., has taken on a clandestine feel. Large parts of the proceedings were expected to be closed to the public. Many documents have been withheld or heavily redacted and photographers were blocked from getting a good shot of the soldier earlier this week.
The court-martial began Monday under a barrage of heavy restrictions, but the military has since relaxed some of the rules.
Manning supporters wearing “truth” T-shirts had to turn them inside out before entering the courtroom, but now they are allowed. Reporters covering the hearings were asked to sign a document saying they would withhold the names of spokespeople on-site because the military said some people directly involved in the case had received death threats. The Associated Press signed the document the first two days, but protested it. On Wednesday, an AP reporter and photographer crossed out the section pertaining to anonymity before signing it and were allowed to cover the trial.
The lack of public access to rulings and motions is being challenged in federal court by the Center for Constitutional Rights, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and a handful of journalists. Thirty news organizations, including the AP, plan to file a brief this week supporting the case.
Military law experts say some of it is common for a court-martial, while other restrictions appear tailored to the extraordinary nature of the case, which has garnered an outpouring of support for Manning from whistleblowers, activists and others around the world.
“I cannot remember a situation where there was such a high degree of civilian interest, people not affiliated with the military, having intense and passionate interest in the outcome of the case,” said David J.R. Frakt, a military law expert at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer.
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