Barack Obama has prosecuted more whistleblowers than any of his predecessors, with Bradley Manning’s case part of the crackdown, but people will still break the rules to reveal the truth to the public, Kristinn Hrafnsson, Wikileaks spokesman, told RT.
The trial of the US army private, Bradley Manning, who handed classified military data to Wikileaks, is now underway in Maryland.
The whistleblower faces a list of charges – among them aiding the enemy, which could land him in prison for the rest of his life.
Kristinn Hrafnsson believes that Manning has already suffered
enough and should be set free as no lives have been harmed due to
the data he disclosed.
RT: Manning is on trial for providing information to your
organization. You're the ones who made it public - do you feel
responsible for his predicament?
Kristinn Hrafnsson: We are a journalistic organization, who of course provide a platform for whistleblowers and sources to submit information to us anonymously. And the best way to secure the people – the whistleblowers – is by not knowing their identity. So, I can say that I first heard the name ‘Bradley Manning’ when I read in the papers that he has been arrested in May 2010. So, it’s worth emphasizing that nothing that WikiLeaks did led to his arrest and this trail.
RT: What is your organization doing to help him avoid life imprisonment for collaborating with you?
KH: We do support him in any way possible through the
millions of people that have subscribed to our Twitter and our
Facebook accounts. And we try to provide a mass of support
to Bradley Manning because he, certainly, needs it and will need
it in the future. This trial is very much a trial of the freedom
of the press. And it’s worth noting that there are extremely
serious steps taken by the US administration to pursue these
extremely serious charges against young Bradley Manning for
aiding the enemy, for basically treason, which carries the death
penalty. It’s an extremely serious thing that should be
considered by the general public and journalists as a serious
RT: It turns out that by publishing Manning’s documents WikiLeaks aided the enemy as well. Should you also be prosecuted?
KH: It’s totally absurd. We work with more than 100 media
organizations all around the world, including the New York Times,
who published this information. So, did the New York Times aid
the enemy? Would’ve it have made a difference if those
soldiers who killed Osama bin Laden, found a copy of the New York
Times in his house or online material? This is
RT: Many blame Manning for spilling state secrets without
regard to those he might endanger. He deserves to be punished
KH: Absolutely not. He should be set free. He 's suffered
enough after three years in prison and one year almost under
torturous conditions. Enough is enough. The information that was
revealed by WikiLeaks was information on war crimes and
corruption and information that should be in the public domain.
There’s not a single report or claim that life has been harmed as
a result of these leaks.
RT: The US government is already under fire for apparently
clamping down on press freedoms, take the AP debacle, for
example. Could this play into Manning's hands, getting him a
KH: This should be a wakeup call to everybody. Yes, you are correct. This is a part of a strategy, a tendency, which is extremely serious. You mentioned phone records that were taken from 20 Germans from the Associated Press, the gruesome Fox affair as well. Let’s not forget that under Obama more whistleblowers had been prosecuted that under all other president after World War II combined.
RT: Julian Assange remains holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Bradley Manning faces a lifetime in prison - what kind of future do you think the whistleblowing movement has?
KH: There’s an obvious attempt to stop the whistleblowers
because those in power they, of course, see that in our modern
age it’s easier to submit information to the general public
through WikiLeaks or other platforms that are similar. It won’t
stop whistleblowers. There’ll always be brave people out there,
who are filled with the right ideals and, who feel that sometimes
they need to break the rules to get information out to the people
because the people have the right to know. I don’t see that as a
serious threat towards whistleblowing, in general. And it’s a
positive thing that in many other countries, outside the US,
there’s growing tendency towards strengthening the legal base of
whistleblowing, including here in my own country [Iceland]. So, I
don’t fear that too much, but overreaction and this ridiculous
show-trial that started today is an indication of, actually, the
positive element that whistleblowing can have and the need for us
to have whistleblowers to submit information into the public