“The latest arrest of citizen Chelsea Manning demonstrates the attitudes inherent in a culture of revenge which advocates moves against anyone who dares to challenge US Establishment interests," Professor Stuart Rees, the director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and an Australian academic, human rights activist, and author, told Sputnik in a written interview.
Slamming what he described as the “invisible deliberations” of US grand juries to punish dissenters, he pointed the finger at America’s “alleged rules of law” and warned that “there may be no legal justification for the latest action against Chelsea Manning”.
“However, that does not seem to matter: it is the overriding influence of a culture intent on punishment and revenge which needs to be challenged”, Rees pointed out.
Greg Barns, an Australian lawyer and adviser to Wikileaks, for his part, told Sputnik that Manning’s arrest is a sign that she is “being used improperly as a means to influence the grand jury”.
When asked why the court kept the hearing on Manning secret, Barns pointed out that “there is no need for secrecy” because “secret justice is dangerous and allows abuses of power”.
Commenting on Manning’s refusal to testify, he noted that “she is right to refuse to cooperate with a witchhunt”.
Barns underscored that the decision to arrest Manning “should trouble media across the world” given that “freedom of speech and open justice are the hallmarks of liberal democracy which the US likes to tell us all is what it stands for”.
Referring to speculation that Manning’s imprisonment may serve as another tool to pressure Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Barns claimed that “if it's the case it has backfired and strengthened support for Assange”.
The remarks came after Chelsea Manning tweeted shortly after her arrest on Friday that she has no intention of complying with the grand jury she's been summoned before.
In 2010, Manning was sentenced to 35 years behind bars for leaking a trove of military intelligence records to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. In 2017, then-outgoing US President Barack Obama commuted her sentence after she had served seven years.
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