A civilian lawyer for Pfc. Bradley Manning has accused US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of making “prejudicial” comments about the former army intelligence analyst.
According to David Coombs, Obama’s recent comments that Manning “broke the law” by allegedly transferring classified documents to WikiLeaks were “deliberately designed” to weaken the Pfc’s defense.
“These are people who should know better… Members of the government have taken the opportunity to throw comments out to the press that were very prejudicial,” Coombs said at Manning’s pre-trial hearing in a statement quoted by Fox News.
“It was done purposefully and was unfortunate for us. Even though [Obama] is the commander-in-chief, he does not have influence in this courtroom.”
It should be noted that similar concerns have been raised by a number of journalists and analysts, including Dan Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971.
“I don’t think anyone disagrees that the government has enough evidence to start a court martial proceeding. The question is whether they should be proceeding,” Ellsberg told The Guardian back in December 2011.
“It’s outrageous for two reasons. How can there be a fair court martial when the commander in chief, president Obama himself, pronounced that he is guilty [of breaking the law]? Secondly, he has been subjected to 10 and a half months of clearly abusive treatment that in my opinion was immoral and illegal.”
Pfc. Bradley Manning faces a total of 22 charges – including aiding the enemy – after thousands of classified documents allegedly downloaded by the former intelligence analyst ended up on WikiLeaks.
His court martial is currently scheduled for September, but may be postponed due to ongoing legal wrangling. If found guilty, Manning is likely to spend the rest of his life in a military brig without the possibility of parole.