Rally supporting Wikileaks leaker Bradley Manning to take place Sat., June 1 in Tampa

Perhaps the most sensational thing that WikiLeaks revealed was classified video posted back in April of 2010 showing a U.S. Apache helicopter firing on civilians in Baghdad in 2007. That video showed Americans shooting and killing 11 people who did not return fire. What made the film even more damaging to the military was the fact that an audio recording of the event featured soldiers joking about the dead civilians.

After nearly a year in custody Manning reported that he had been stripped naked every night and made to parade nude in front of officers and guards while serving time at the military brig in Quantico, Virginia. Manning has called the treatment "clearly punitive in nature."

In July of 2010, President Obama addressed the leak to WikiLeaks for the first time, saying the material that ended up being published in several U.S. and international newspapers didn't actually "reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate on Afghanistan."

Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange is the man who received classified material from Manning. Assange is currently in legal limbo, having spent more than 300 days in the Ecuadorean embassy in England. The 41-year-old Australian is trying to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where two women accuse him of rape and sexual assault. He has denied those claims but refuses to go to Sweden without a strong promise that he will not be extradited onward to the United States, where he would face charges of espionage relating to WikiLeaks.

"He’s definitely a victim," says Occupy Tampa member Dave Gonzalez. "He's holed up because of that threat, and that's a threat that can be used against all of us."

Saturday's rally will begin at the corner of MacDill and Interbay in South Tampa shortly before 10 a.m., with the march to the military base scheduled to start at 10 a.m. There will be a series of speakers and street theater performed as well. You can read more about the protest at this Facebook page.

  • Bradley Manning

June 1 marks the beginning of Bradley Manning’s fourth year in prison. While serving as a U.S. Army soldier in Iraq in 2010, he was arrested on suspicion of having passed classified material to the website WikiLeaks. Manning's trial begins on Monday, and he faces a possible life sentence if convicted.

This Saturday begins an international week of support for Manning, and activists in Tampa are planning a march and rally in front of MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa to mark the occasion.

"It’s important because there’s a media blackout on Bradley Manning," says Thai Huynh, an activist with Occupy Tampa. "He's a whistleblower, a truth teller and a man of conscience and not a traitor, and I think the truth is a more patriotic thing than the alternative, which is to keep war crimes in the dark.”

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