On Tuesday the recently-established Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) released in full an audio recording of Pfc. Bradley Manning's statement, read at his pretrial hearing, explaining the motivations behind leaking state secrets to Wikileaks. The audio recording provides the first ever opportunity to hear the voice of the soldier who has been held in military custody for over 1,000 days.
Glenn Greenwald, who sits on FPF's board, noted in the Guardian Tuesday, "One particularly oppressive rule governing the Manning trial has barred not only all video or audio recordings of the proceedings, but also any photographs being taken of Manning or even transcripts made of what is said in court. Combined with the prohibition on all press interviews with him, this extraordinary secrecy regime has meant that, in the two-and-a-half years since his arrest, the world has been prevented, literally, from hearing Manning's voice. That changes today."
While independent journalist Alexa O'Brien diligently transcribed Manning's word for a rush transcript from the Fort Meade press gallery, so that the whistleblower's comments could be shared, the release of the audio ensures Manning's exact words are now in the public domain.
The source of the leaked audio is unknown, but FPF commeted on the decision to release it:
We hope this recording will shed light on one of the most secret court trials in recent history, in which the government is putting on trial a concerned government employee whose only stated goal was to bring attention to what he viewed as serious governmental misconduct and criminal activity. We hope to prompt additional analysis of these proceedings by other journalistic institutions and the public at large. While we are not equipped (technically or as a matter of human resources) to receive leaked information nor do we plan on receiving them in the future, we are proud to publish and analyze this particular recording because it is so clearly matches our mission of supporting transparency journalism.
In the lengthy statement, Manning explains how he believed the documents in his possession showed profound wrongdoing on the part of the U.S. government and that he hoped leaking them would "spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy in general as it related to Iraq and Afghanistan." Manning also details how he first approached mainstream media outlets including the New York Times and the Washington Post to leak the material, but was either ignored or dismissed. He then sought out Wikileaks.
Listen to Manning's statement, in full, here.
And this short video by Laura Poitras picks out some of the highlights: