Many people heard of Bradley E. Manning, a United States Army Soldier, who was arrested back in May of 2010 for passing classified military information to Wikileaks. He had a total of 22 charges laid against him because he released information that he had downloaded from SIPRNet (Secret Internet Protocol Router Network). This information was on a variety of sensitive topics such as Afghan war documents, Iraq War documents, Reykjavik13, and even a video now known as the Collateral Murder video. All in all over 251,287 U.S state department cables were filtered through Assange to Wikileaks.
After leaking the massive amount of information Bradley E. Manning was subsequently discharged and then detained – now awaiting trial for over 22 different charges but the United States government doesn’t stop there. On top of prosecuting Manning, they are also going after several WikiLeaks backers who had helped Manning.
So who are the backers that helped Manning? One backer includes Birgitta Jonsdottir – she is a member of the Althing parliament (Icelandic parliament) and she represents The Movement. The second backer is Jacob Appelbaum – he is a hacker and computer security researcher who works at the University of Washington and who represented WikiLeaks at the Hope conference in 2010. Third is Rop Gonggrijp who is a businessman and Dutch activist.
These WikiLeaks backers, three in total, were fighting to keep their Twitter account information from prosecutors however U.S District Judge Liam O’Grady, a Judge presiding in Alexandria, Virginia, denied their request to prevent their information from being given to the prosecutors from Twitter Inc. The three WikiLeaks backers then challenged the ruling however O’Grady stated that they have very little chance of success because of several reasons.
First, the information that the prosecutors were seeking was not from various Tweets or conversations, it was simply the subscriber names, contact information, activity, IP addresses, email addresses, and billing records.
Second, was because the ““Litigation of these issues has already denied the government lawful access to potential evidence for more than a year. The public interest therefore weighs strongly against further delay.”
The backers all of them claim that this retrieval of information is a clear violation of the First Amendment because it violates their privacy and their Constitutional rights. When they got the ruling from O’Grady they were disheartened and Aden Fine, a lawyer who represents Jonsdottir, said that ““We’re obviously disappointed by this ruling and we think the judge got it wrong.” That’s why they are challenging the ruling, hoping for some measure of justice.
The challenge on O’Grady’s ruling has still not been decided on however the United States Government is definitely not winning public appeal with their actions and rulings on the Manning case. After detaining Manning in confinement for an unlawful period of time (he was only released after 200+ scholars petitioned against his detainment), preventing Jacob Appelbaum from leaving the country twelve separate times (as well as taking his laptop and phone during one incident), and more, it will be interesting to see what the overall decision will be on this case and how the public will react to the decision. We can only hope that the courts rule fairly, but that hope is not supported past events now is it?