by New Worker correspondent
THE SIGHT of film footage of United States armed forces firing from a helicopter and deliberately gunning down children in Iraq was the motivation that inspired US serviceman Bradley Manning to leak hundreds of secret electronic communications to the Wikileaks website.
Manning has been held under arrest since 2010 and in London last Tuesday around 25 protesters braved the weather to demonstrate outside the US embassy in Grosvenor Square calling for his release.
Manning was an intelligence analyst giving him access to thousands of emails and other electronic communications between the US government and its embassies around the world – some of which have proved very embarrassing to the US government and its allies after Wikileaks published them for all the world to see.
The protest coincided with a preliminary hearing in the run-up to Manning’s court martial, due to begin in March.
His defence had presented a motion that all charges against him should be dismissed on the grounds that he was motivated by his humanitarian conscience.
He was held in extremely harsh conditions for the first nine months of his detention. The American Department has said Manning was a suicide risk and that it was only trying to keep him from hurting himself and others when it confined him to a tiny, windowless cell for 23 hours a day.
He faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy, which carries a maximum of life behind bars. The current pre-trial hearing focuses on whether Manning's motivation matters in the case.
Prosecutors want the judge to bar the defence from producing evidence of his motivation in leaking a mountain of classified information. They claim it is irrelevant.
The anti-war protesters in London plan to renew their demonstrations in Grosvenor Square on 6th March when Manning’s full trial begins – along with other peace protesters throughout the world who will protest outside their respective US embassies.
EDL leader sentenced
THE LEADER of the notoriously violent Islamophobic English Defence League last Tuesday was sentenced to 10 months in prison for passport fraud.
Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, who is better known to his followers as Tommy Robinson but also uses a number of other aliases, had tried to enter the United States using the passport of a friend, Andrew McMaster, who has a similar appearance – after he had been banned from that country because of his criminal record.
Stephen Lennon, 30, pleaded guilty to possession of a false identity document with improper intention, contrary to the Identity Documents Act 2010, at Southwark Crown Court.
He was detected by US customs officials who found his fingerprints did not match the passport.
The court heard that he was previously jailed for assault in 2005 and also has previous convictions for drugs offences and public order offences.
Lennon has been held in custody since October and this will count as part of his sentence.
The EDL has declined sharply over the last year after planned rallies were thwarted in Brighton, Bristol, Colchester, Walthamstow and other places mainly by local residents coming out of their homes to protest at the EDL presence and block its planned routes.