Julian Assange on Why Calls for His Death and the McCarthyesque Crackdown on WikiLeaks Are Good Signs
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AMY GOODMAN: I wanted to ask you, Julian, about Bradley Manning. Mike Huckabee, who also was a presidential candidate, the governor of Arkansas, said that the person who leaked the information to Julian Assange should be tried for treason and executed. He said whoever in our government leaked that information is guilty of treason and I think anything less than execution is too kind a penalty. Bradley Manning is a young U.S. soldier who was in Iraq, um, has been held for more than a year, much of that time in solitary confinement in Quantico in Virginia. Um it was exposed that his treatment was tantamount to torture. P.J. Crowley, the White House State Department spokesperson, spoke to a group of bloggers at MIT and said his treatment is stupid. For that he was forced out of the State Department. Bradley Manning was then moved to Fort Leavenworth because of the outcry, but he remains, uh, in prison. He remains, um, not tried. What are your comments on him?
JULIAN ASSANGE: First of all, Amy, thanks for answering this question‚ asking this question, but it is difficult for me to speak in detail about that case, and but i can speak about why it is difficult for me to speak about it. So Bradley Manning is an alleged source of WikiLeaks who was detained in Baghdad, and then although there was very little ‚no mainstream press at the time, shipped off to Kuwait, where he was, if you like, held in an extrajudicial circumstance in Kuwait in a similar manner to which detainees are held in Guantanamo Bay. Eventually, through some legal, creative legal methods, he was brought back to the United States, and he’s been imprisoned now for over year. He was being kept in Quantico for eight months under extremely adverse conditions. Quantico is not meant for long-term prisoners. Other prisoners, the maximum duration over the past year has been three months, and people that have been visiting Bradley Manning say, and we have other sources who say, that they were applying those conditions to him because they wanted him to confess that he was involved in a conspiracy to commit espionage against the United States with me. That pressure on Manning appears to have backfired. So by all reports, this is a young man of high moral character and when people of high moral character are pressured in a way that is illegitimate, they become stronger and not weaker. And that seems to have been the case with Bradley Manning and he has told U.S. authorities, as far as we know, nothing about his involvement.
Now there has concurrently been a secret grand jury taking place six kilometers from the center of Washington. That grand jury involves nineteen to twenty-three people selected from that area. Now why was it in Alexandria, Virginia six kilometers [from] the center of Washington, that that grand jury was placed? And those people drawn? Well, it has the highest density of government employees anywhere in the United States. The U.S. government was free to select the place, and they selected this place in order to bias the jury from the very beginning. This, is in fact, wrong to call a jury. This is a type of medieval star chamber. There are these nineteen to twenty-three individuals from the population that are sworn to secrecy. They cannot consult with anyone else. There is no judge, there is no defense council, and there are four prosecutors. So that is why people that are familiar with the grand jury the United States say that a grand jury would not only indict a ham sandwich; it would indict the ham and the sandwich. And that’s a real threat to us.