On February 28th, WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning pled guilty to ten of the charges against him, reading a lengthy prepared statement that explained why he had chosen to leak classified information like the video now known as "Collateral Murder." Now, in protest of the secrecy that has surrounded Manning's arrest and trial, the Freedom of the Press Foundation has published leaked audio of his statement in the courtroom, giving outsiders a rare direct recording of Manning three years after his arrest.
"We have been disturbed that Manning’s pre-trial hearings have been hampered by the kind of extreme government secrecy that his releases to WikiLeaks were intended to protest," the Foundation said in a press release. "While reporters are allowed in the courtroom, no audio or visual recordings are permitted by the judge, no transcripts of the proceedings or any motions by the prosecution have been released, and lengthy court orders read on the stand by the judge have not been published for public review." The ban on recording in the courtroom is hardly unique to Manning's trial, and this leak is both a strike against its secrecy and a sign of how out of step the policy sometimes seems.
Unofficial transcripts trickled out of the courtroom after Manning's statement, and a redacted copy of his speech was published yesterday with the permission of the court. A selection of pre-trial documents were officially released shortly before his plea, but the Freedom of the Press Foundation complains that "many of the most important orders have been withheld—such as the orders relating to the speedy trial proceedings or the order related to Manning’s prolonged solitary confinement." While the Foundation said that it is generally neither equipped nor inclined to publish leaked information, "we are proud to publish and analyze this particular recording because it is so clearly matches our mission of supporting transparency journalism."