WASHINGTON -- Demonstrators from around the country will converge on Leavenworth, Kan., this Saturday to rally in support of Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of leaking classified documents to the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks.
The event will mark the first public rally in support of Manning since he was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, after being imprisoned for nine months on the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia.
There, Manning was forced to sleep naked in a military jail after a commander of the brig in Quantico, Va., ordered his clothes be taken away for a full seven hours. He was also forced to stand naked outside his cell in front of the rest of the clothed inmates until he passed inspection and was given his clothes back.
"Due process and the assumption of innocence are principles we soldiers are sworn to defend, but PFC Bradley Manning has already been declared guilty by our Commander in Chief and subjected to unlawful pretrial punishment," said William Stewart-Starks, an organizer of Saturday's rally and a regional coordinator for Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Gathering in Bob Dougherty Memorial Park on Saturday, demonstrators will denounce Manning's treatment and call on the government to drop all charges against him.
The Pentagon has argued Manning was treated no differently than any other maximum security detainee, but Manning's supporters question that designation.
"Our leaders in Washington need to return to American principles of transparent and accountable government," said Jeff Paterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network. "That starts with protecting -- not prosecuting -- whistleblowers and dropping all charges against Bradley Manning."
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