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The Sentencing of Chelsea Manning: Alexa O’Brien’s Exclusive Interview with Attorney David Coombs

Fort Meade, MD — On August 21, 2013 The Sparrow Project partnered with Jeff Wirth of Burning Hearts Media to produce Alexa O’Brien’s exclusive interview with David Coombs, lead civilian counsel for Private First Class Manning. An excerpt of this interview aired that afternoon on Huffpost Live and was cross-published on The Huffington Post. The next morning, 40 minutes of this interview aired on Democracy Now!. The following is Alexa’s interview with David in its entirety available for embed or download. We welcome bloggers and media outlets to use this footage as it is the only comprehensive long-form interview with Manning’s counsel and sheds an important light on one of the most historic and heartbreaking cases of whistleblower prosecution to date.

As Judge Denise Lind handed down a sentence of 35 years to Pfc. Manning the press pool was already framing the narrative of how the sentence would be reported upon from that moment forward. The prospect of Manning being paroled after 7 years (a hopeful one at best), words like “leniency”, and a misplaced infatuation with Manning’s private life started to bloat and leave little room for the ugly truth. Namely, that a young whistleblower who exposed war crimes was sentenced to decades in prison. A sentence which relied in part on a draconian application of the 1917 espionage act. This reflex by the media to eschew the complexities and embrace convenient or sensational headlines is why an interview with Manning’s Attorney on his terms with the journalist of his choosing was so important.

Regarding the use of male pronouns *

During the pretrial proceedings, Court Martial and sentencing of Pfc. Manning, Chelsea requested to be identified as Bradley and addressed using the male pronoun. In a letter embargoed for August 21, 2013 Chelsea proclaimed that she is female and wished to be addressed from that moment forward as Chelsea E. Manning. This interview pre-dates Chelsea’s public announcement.

Statement from the Family of Pfc. Manning Regarding Col. Denise Lind’s Verdict

Statement from the Family of Pfc. Manning Regarding Col. Denise Lind’s Verdict

[Fort Meade, MD] The family of Pfc. Manning has issued a statement regarding today’s verdict issued by Judge Denise Lind. Manning was convicted on all counts with the exception of two; Aiding the Enemy (which carried harshest penalties) & 793(e)(for alleged release of the encrypted Garani massacre recording). If sentenced consecutively to the counts to which he was convicted, Pfc. Manning could face up to 136 years in prison. Sentencing is scheduled to begin tomorrow at 9:30am EST. Journalist Alexa O’Brien has been present for the entire proceeding and will be providing live coverage of tomorrow’s events HERE.

The following is the Manning family statement in its entirety…

“While we are obviously disappointed in today’s verdicts, we are happy that Judge Lind agreed with us that Brad never intended to help America’s enemies in any way. Brad loves his country and was proud to wear its uniform.

We want to express our deep thanks to David Coombs, who has dedicated three years of his life to serving as lead counsel in Brad’s case. We also want to thank Brad’s Army defense team, Major Thomas Hurley and Captain Joshua Tooman, for their tireless efforts on Brad’s behalf, and Brad’s first defense counsel, Captain Paul Bouchard, who was so helpful to all of us in those early confusing days and first suggested David Coombs as Brad’s counsel. Most of all, we would like to thank the thousands of people who rallied to Brad’s cause, providing financial and emotional support throughout this long and difficult time, especially Jeff Paterson and Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network. Their support has allowed a young Army private to defend himself against the full might of not only the US Army but also the US Government.”