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2011-06-20

Glenn Greenwald: Supporters of Bradley Manning Risk Jail for Refusing to Testify in WikiLeaks Probe

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Glenn Greenwald, constitutional law attorney and political and legal blogger for Salon.com.

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Earlier this month, the FBI served a subpoena on David House, one of the founders of the Bradley Manning Support Network who helped publicize the oppressive conditions of Manning’s solitary confinement at the Quantico Marine Corps Base. U.S. Army Private Manning has been imprisoned without charges for his alleged role in releasing classified U.S. documents to the online whistleblowing website, WikiLeaks. House testified before a grand jury last week investigating WikiLeaks and invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com says if House and other witnesses are offered immunity, they will no longer be able to invoke this right and may refuse to cooperate with the grand jury, risking jail time rather than aid the investigation. [includes rush transcript]

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Glenn, I want to ask you about a few more quick issues — they’re not quick, but for your quick response. And one of them is the issue of Bradley Manning. You exposed early on his treatment at Quantico, saying it amounts to torture. He was then moved to Fort Leavenworth. He is the alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower, the U.S. soldier who is alleged to have leaked a great deal of U.S. documents.

GLENN GREENWALD: Right. By all accounts, the treatment that he is receiving at Fort Leavenworth is substantially better than the brutal and oppressive treatment to which he was subjected for 10 straight months at Quantico. The controversy over his treatment became so unsustainable — not only the President’s State Department spokesman resigning, but the U.N. launching a formal investigation, Amnesty International denouncing it as torture — that they finally had to move him.

But the real issue there is that they are trying very hard and diligently still to criminalize what WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have done. The grand jury is aggressively investigating whether crimes were committed by WikiLeaks. And the pressure on Manning, from the start, was substantially about trying to induce him to testify against WikiLeaks in a way that would help the government prosecute WikiLeaks. And the report suggests that Manning has refused to do so, but that’s what that treatment was about.

AMY GOODMAN: David House, what’s happened to him?

GLENN GREENWALD: He is somebody who had started the Bradley Manning Support Network and was an outspoken supporter of Bradley Manning. Ever since then, he’s been harassed by the government. He had his laptop seized for over a month, and the contents of it copied with no search warrant when he entered the United States after a vacation to Mexico. And he’s now been subpoenaed before the grand jury, and he showed up last week and refused to testify. He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and refused to answer any questions and has denounced the proceedings as a show trial.

And the interesting issue now is whether other witnesses, who also invoked their Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves, and David House will be offered immunity, meaning that the government will promise not to use anything they say against them, in which case they’re no longer able to invoke their Fifth Amendment right. The court will direct them to answer the questions. And at least several of them have vowed that, even if that happens, they will refuse to cooperate in any way with the grand jury and would rather risk jail time than aid an investigation that they believe threatens core freedoms, which is the attempt to prosecute WikiLeaks. And if that happens, I hope that everybody who believes in transparency and press freedoms in the United States will do whatever they can to support these very brave young people who are willing to risk their liberty in defense of a principle that we all should consider very important.

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