WASHINGTON -- Supporters of Army Pvt. Bradley Manning, who is facing a court martial for allegedly providing secret government documents to WikiLeaks, have put up a billboard on a busy commuter route in the nation's capital, traveled by many going between the District of Columbia and Fort Meade, Md., where the Oklahoma native faces a potential court martial.
The billboard, on New York Avenue NE, reads "Free Bradley Manning," followed by "Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime" and a website address for the Bradley Manning Support Network, which paid for the sign.
New York Avenue which carries U.S. Route 50 in and out of the nation's capital, connects downtown to highway routes heading to Annapolis, Baltimore and points father up the East Coast. During rush hour, the route experiences regular traffic backups, giving commuters greater exposure to the billboard's message.
Billboards are not allowed on the federally controlled Baltimore-Washington Parkway, a major commuter route adjacent to Fort Meade, home to the National Security Agency, the Defense Information School and other military facilities.
As The Washington Post reports, the sign costs $16,000 for the month.
Last year, as funds were being raised for the billboard, supporters could vote on proposed versions.Manning, who attended pre-trial hearings last month at Fort Meade, could face life in prison if convicted. As the McClatchy newspapers reported on Dec. 22:
It's a near-certainty that Manning ... will next face a court-martial, but experts say that it's unclear whether the government will be able to prove its most serious charge against the former Army intelligence analyst -- that he aided the enemy.
A ruling is expected to come on Monday whether Manning will face a court martial.