WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg, and Assange's attorney Barry Pollack held a telephone press conference today to discuss Bradley Manning's case, which is currently wrapping up amid allegations of press harassment. It wasn't the easiest conference to cover: It was moved from 10 a.m. Eastern to 3 p.m. Eastern on Friday at short notice, and when it was Assange's turn to speak he apparently wasn't at the telephone—but we successfully listened in.
Ellsberg, perhaps America's most famous whistleblower, said, "I was Bradley Manning—I was charged with unauthorized disclosure of classified information. Obama has charged seven (whistleblower) cases under the espionage act. [...] I could have been charged with aid and comfort to the enemy if I had been serving in the military. The fact is that very few people have asked why there only three cases were taken prior to President Obama entering office if leaks occur every other day."
Meanwhile, Assange focused on the fact that Manning was operating under humanitarian impulses when he leaked documents and videos to WikiLeaks that exposed American government secrets and possible evidence of military wrongdoing. "For the past three years, the United States government has been engaged in a process of injustice against Bradley Manning. They have subjected him to cruel and inhumane treatment, but there is no evidence Manning is anything other than what he is. Manning is the biggest friend journalists have ever had [...] If 'aiding the enemy' charges are able to stand against Manning, this will forever prevent journalists from exposing high crimes of state," he said.
This morning, Assange formally announced the launch of the WikiLeaks Party in his home country of Australia. Assange, who is currently holed up inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, will be running for the Australian Senate.
[Image: Wikimedia user Marina Harrris/Julian Assange]