US Private Bradley Manning is no longer the alleged source of all those documents to WikiLeaks. According to his own testimony, delivered before a military court on February 28, Manning was the source – nothing alleged about it.
In a pre-trial hearing for the first time, Manning admitted that he broke the law when he released around 700,000 government documents to WikiLeaks but these lesser charges did not satisfy the United States government.
Calling more than 100 witnesses – some anonymously and in closed hearings – prosecutors will argue that Manning’s leak put national security and lives at risk by ‘aiding the enemy’.
If convicted, Manning – the traitor, could face life without parole but what of Manning – the whistleblower?
During his hour-long plea, Manning told the court that he first turned to the national press. Before approaching WikiLeaks, Manning says he contacted the New York Times, the Washington Post and Politico – neither of which returned his calls. His testimony raises the question of whether the mainstream press was prepared to host the debate on US interventions and foreign policy that Manning had in mind.
Media outlets went on to draw on WikiLeaks for some of the biggest news stories of the decade. Manning’s leak meant millions of papers sold and pages viewed yet the story of the man himself has been pushed to the margins. Is this just ingratitude or something more sinister? Are important parts of the fourth estate signing up for a system of government-media relations that sees whistleblowers as enemies of the state?
To discuss Manning’s testimony and the implications for journalism and freedom of speech our News Divide guests this week are: Chase Madar, author of ‘The Passion of Bradley Manning’; Jesselyn Radack, whistleblower and activist; Ed Pilkington, a reporter for the Guardian; and Janet Reitman, a Rolling Stone columnist.
In NewsBytes this week: Two more journalists gunned down in Pakistan; the Somalian journalist on trial for reporting on rape gets six months in jail; Myanmar’s hopeful media opening under threat; and the French government in a flap over coverage of the war in Mali.
Our feature takes us to Ethiopia where the US ‘war on terror’ has provided cover for laws that are being used to silence dissident journalists. Reeyot Alemu is one of those journalists – she has been sentenced to five years in jail. Foreign reporters have also been charged under anti-terrorism laws for daring to communicate with opposition groups. The Listening Post’s Nic Muirhead takes a closer look.
We close with a musical take on the WikiLeaks story from a region that has been a better friend to Julian Assange than some other parts of the world. Perhaps Assange is tapping his toes to ‘El Son de los WikiLeaks’ while counting the days in the Ecuadorian embassy.