Bradley Manning Supporters Marching to White House to Demand Pardon

'We will be supporting Bradley Manning as a real hero,' says march organizer.

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Supporters of Bradley Manning protest his detention by marching around the perimeter of Fort McNair on the final day of closing arguments in his military trial  in Washington, D.C., July 26, 2013.
Supporters of Bradley Manning protest his detention by marching around the perimeter of Fort McNair on the final day of closing arguments in his military trial in Washington, D.C., July 26, 2013.

Supporters of Pfc. Bradley Manning, convicted Tuesday of a slew of charges for leaking documents to WikiLeaks, will march on the White House Tuesday evening.

"We will be supporting Bradley Manning as a real hero who has revealed war crimes by the U.S. military," Malachy Kilbride, an activist affiliated with the Bradley Manning Support Network, told U.S. News.

Protesters will meet around 8:30 p.m. at Washington's Dupont Circle, then march several blocks south to the White House.

"We will be taking to the streets to express our hope that Bradley Manning will be pardoned by the White House," Kilbride said. "It's pretty last-minute in the organizing, but there are a fair number of [pro-Manning activists] in town right now."

[RELATED: Bradley Manning Acquitted of Aiding the Enemy]

The verdict in Manning's case was announced by U.S. Army Judge Denise Lind at Fort Meade, Md., Tuesday afternoon. She found him not guilty of the most serious charge, aiding the enemy. He was found guilty on the vast majority of the charges against him. The sentencing phase, expected to last several weeks, begins Wednesday.

Legal scholars and activists feared that if Manning, 25, was found guilty of aiding the enemy - a charge punishable by execution, although prosecutors were not seeking death in his case - it would establish a precedent that would chill future leaks to the media.

"[T]he government was seeking to intimidate anyone who might consider revealing valuable information in the future," Ben Wizner, a free speech and privacy specialist with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a released statement after the verdict was announced.

Manning nonetheless is now likely facing more than a century in prison.

[ASSANGE: Obama 'Effectively Rewriting the Constitution]

U.S. military documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as State Department cables from embassies around the world, were published by newspapers after WikiLeaks released them in 2010 and 2011. By providing the documents for publication, prosecutors contended Manning also provided the information to al-Qaida.

"They put the bar so high by adding in the aiding the enemy charge that we're supposed to feel relieved now," snipped CODEPINK co-founder Medea Benjamin. "I feel relieved in some respect, but still really upset and sad," she told U.S. News.

Members of the feminist anti-war group will also be outside the White House tonight.

Kilbride foresees a long-term campaign in favor of pardoning Manning. "It may not be President Obama, it may be President Obama's successor" who pardons Manning, he said.

"There are different pockets" of society Kilbride expects to keep the fight going, including pro-transparency activists, anti-war veterans and gay rights advocates - the later he surmised from large pro-Manning contingents at 2013 gay pride parades.

"We won the battle, now we need to go win the war," Manning attorney David Coombs said after the verdict was read, The Associated Press reported. "Today is a good day, but Bradley is by no means out of the fire."

 

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