Campaign will support a professional stenographer to produce transcripts and provide them to the public and press
For immediate release
San Francisco, CA – May 9, 2013 – Freedom of the Press Foundation is proud to announce a new fundraising campaign to hire a professional court stenographer to produce transcripts of the trial of whistleblower Bradley Manning, scheduled to begin June 3rd, 2013. You can go here to donate.
As has been documented by many media organizations, the pre-trial hearings of Bradley Manning have been hampered by heavy-handed government secrecy. Government briefs are not released to the public, written rulings are rarely given to journalists, and most importantly, there is no official transcript of the proceedings. This has denied the public of opportunities for a range of accurate, timely, and in-depth reporting on the trial.
The Center for Constitutional Rights filed a First Amendment lawsuit on behalf of a variety of news organizations and journalists seeking timely access to court documents, but the military court of appeals ruled in favor of continued secrecy.
As PBS recounted recently, “Because there is no official court record, the public is entirely dependent on the accounts of the reporters on-scene — the few who can fit into the courtroom making notes longhand, or the rest who report from the media center, typing down words and details frantically and hoping they don’t make any mistakes.”
This campaign aims to fully fund a court stenographer, who will be credentialed with a media organization and attend the trial in the court’s media room. The court stenographer will produce a transcript of the trial, and as soon as the transcripts are available, the Freedom of the Press Foundation will post them online for journalists and the public.
“Journalists covering Manning’s case face many Kafkaesque obstacles, but nothing is more punitive than the government’s refusal to provide a timely and accurate transcript. By funding a court stenographer, we hope to help journalists in their effort to report on the trial,” said Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who serves on the board of directors of Freedom of the Press Foundation and attended Manning’s Article 32 hearing.
Given the trial may last three to four months, we aim to raise $40,000 – 50,000 to cover the costs of this project.
Manning has already pleaded guilty to giving documents to WikiLeaks and faces up to twenty years in prison. The remaining counts—including charges under the Espionage Act and for ‘aiding the enemy’—are punitive, unnecessary, and could have a permanent effect on both whistleblowers rights and press freedom in the United States. Therefore, if the trial ends early, or we are unable to transcribe the proceedings for any reason, the proceeds will be donated to the Bradley Manning Defense Fund.
In addition, the Freedom of the Press Foundation is giving two grants totaling $8,500 to independent journalists Alexa O’Brien and Kevin Gosztola so they can continue their vital coverage throughout the trial.
"O’Brien and Gosztola have been mainstays throughout the proceedings, exhaustively digging into every detail. They have brought transparency to an otherwise opaque trial," said executive director Trevor Timm. "In contrast, many mainstream news organizations, who reported extensively on information released by Manning, have been noticeably absent during Manning’s pre-trial hearings."
O’Brien has taken nearly verbatim transcripts during the course of the pretrial hearings and making them available to the public, including Manning's statement to the court. She will be credentialed by the Village Voice for the duration of the trial. Gosztola, who writes for FireDogLake, has broken a variety of stories surrounding the Manning trial, including the news that Bradley Manning would take the stand to explain why he provided information to WikiLeaks. We are excited to support this vital work.
“The government has tried to shut the public out of the Manning hearings,” said Glenn Greenwald, acclaimed journalist and Freedom of the Press Foundation board member. “O’Brien and Gosztola are giving the public a virtual seat in the courtroom. Their detailed daily reports help hold the government accountable for its actions during the proceedings. That’s some of the most powerful work a journalist can do, and we’re glad to help support that work in the coming months.”
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