For those readers who question why whistle-blower Edward Snowden opted to begin leaking US documents from foreign soil, and why he is not heeding the USA''s call to return back "home", look no further than Bradley Manning.
This young member of the US military also found sensitive information, he accessed as part of his role, too uncomfortable to bear and leaked a range of cables to WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange. Manning of course was a member of the US military whilst Snowden was an operative for the US intelligence services. Whether these different roles mean that different responsibilities were in play we do not know.
Manning could have hid behind claims of PTSD as he had served in Iraq and viewed brutal images and footage of killings. Whether he would have been allowed that same privilege given to Sgt Bales who is accused of killing 17 Afghan civilians is not clear.
We do however know that Manning has been treat worse than a dog since he was taken into custody in the USA and his basic human rights appear to count for nothing.
Today Manning was back in court for the trial which has been so long coming. His frail figure, accompanied by a beefy guard as he arrived at court, paints a sad picture. A frail young man who the US administration will lock up and throw the key away by the end of this trial.
A very different picture of course to the "cat that got the cream", George Zimmerman, who shot dead an unarmed teenager after following him, for looking suspicious. Zimmerman claimed an altercation and tussle led to him having to kill the teenager with a shot through the heart being self-defemse.
Manning has taken no lives, at least not directly, but the prosecution claim that the information he leaked helped terrorists, in particular fugitive, and now dead, Osama bin Laden. Thursday an appeal against one key charge was dismissed by the military judge.
This decision, reports the Washington Post, has significant implications for the future publication of secret government material and whistle-blowers, according to civil libertarians and press freedom advocates. According to the judge the fact that some of the confidential information handed over by Manning was read by Bin Laden means he “aided the enemy”.
We have no firm proof that the information was read by Bin Laden merely the shaky word of the US administration, its military forces and intelligence sevices. A complete set-up is a distinct possibilty.
Manning's legal team put forward a motion to dismiss the charge of aiding the enemy on July 4, Independence Day in the USA, when that country's citizens wave flags and applaud the fact that they live in a so-called "free country". The implication of the decision to go ahead and charge Manning with aiding the enemy, a crime which carries a life prison sentence if convicted, is that it could affect us all.
Publications such as the Guardian in the UK, The New York Post and the Washington Post could in theory face the same charges if they publish information, as in the past, that has been leaked by whistle-blowers. Small publications such as TEKJournalismUK and your own blog could similarly stand accused.
Those of us who for some time have been trying to convince people that the likes of Edward Snowden are whistle-blowers not traitors knew what was coming. Take a lesson from history and cast you mind back to the Nazis. By the time people knew them for what they really were it was already too late. Once a force has a monoply on news reporting and the truth society will return back to the dark ages.
Stand up for people like Bradley, Edward and Julian now before it is too late.
Updates from the trial in due course.
Related reading at TEK, re Bradley Manning: