Supporters of the Army private accused of providing a trove of U.S. government secrets to WikiLeaks have erected a billboard along New York Avenue NE in advance of an investigating officer’s recommendation on whether Manning should face a court-martial. “Free Bradley Manning,” reads the billboard, with a tagline: “Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime.”
“The military would like to characterize Manning as someone who broke military regulations and should be jailed for the rest of his life for doing so,” said Jeff Paterson of the Bradley Manning Support Network, which paid for the billboard. “We obviously have a different opinion.”
The billboard has been conveniently placed along the route from Washington to Fort Meade, where Manning faced a pretrial hearing last month and where he is expected to appear to hear the investigative officer’s recommendation to a convening authority. That decision is expected to come by Monday.
A similar billboard was previously erected in the Kansas City area, not far from Fort Leavenworth, where Manning was held after being moved from a Marine brig at Quantico. Paterson said that the Kansas sign was helpful in building support for Manning and helped bolster rallies in his defense.
The billboard in Washington cost $16,000 for the month, Paterson said. It is located near 1240 New York Ave NE.
Staff writer Jason Ukman contributed to this post.