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Call for Obama to pardon Manning after 35-year sentence is handed down

Today, 21 August 2013, whistleblower Private Bradley Manning has been sentenced to 35 years after leaking classified material to WikiLeaks.

“President Obama can and should pardon Bradley Manning. America champions international standards on free speech, freedom of information and transparency abroad. Now it's time to see them applying those principles at home,” said Agnes Callamard, Executive Director of ARTICLE 19.

“Under international law, Bradley Manning is a whistleblower. He released information that started an important discussion about issues in the public interest. Manning should be protected not persecuted” added Callamard.

“The international impact of jailing Manning will encourage self-censorship, silencing potential whistleblowers. Governments across the globe will point to America to justify attacks on their own citizens” she added.

Why should Bradley Manning be pardoned?

Bradley Manning is a whistleblower who uncovered serious human rights violations and should be protected under international law. Whistleblowing is as a crucial aspect of the right to freedom of expression and information (Article 19 of the International Convent on Civil and Political Rights and other standards).

International standards stipulate that whistleblowers who reveal serious wrongdoings in the public interest should benefit from full legal protection, as long as they have acted in good faith and with the reasonable belief that the information they have disclosed is substantially true and is evidence of wrongdoing. This protection should be granted even when the disclosure might be in breach of the law or a condition of employment.

National security can be a valid reason for imposing restrictions on freedom of expression, but governments are required to clearly demonstrate that the expression will actually harm national security. National security cannot be used as a justification for preventing disclosures of illegalities or wrongdoing, no matter how embarrassing to the government.

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