Hero or villain? The shackled and naked United States. soldier in WikiLeaks freedom of speech row as Julian Assange preens himself in UK

This weekend, demonstrators will take to the streets of cities across the world, including London, to protest against America’s treatment of the man it holds responsible for the WikiLeaks debacle — the release of 250,000 confidential U.S. embassy cables last Nov that revealed devastatingly damaging details of what the diplomats really thought about everybody else.

Protesters in America will gather outside the razor-wire gates of the U.S. marine corps base at Quantico, Virginia.

Inside a tiny cell in the base’s prison block languishes the object of their mission — a slightly-built, fresh-faced young man held in conditions that have been compared to those at the notorious detention camps Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib.

But he won’t hear them, no matter how loudly they shout. His cell doesn't have a window and on the rare occasions he's allowed out, the clanking of the chains that shackle his hands and feet tend to drown out other sounds.

He might face rape charges in Sweden but, pursued by plaudits and feted by celebrities such as socialites Jemima Khan and Bianca Jagger, Assange is on something of a high at the moment.

We're not, of course, talking about Julian Assange. The white-haired WikiLeaks supremo will be spending his weekend pottering around the 600-acre grounds of his current billet, Ellingham Hall in Suffolk, basking in warm reflections over his speech last Tuesday to 700 wide-eyed students at Cambridge University Union.

But Bradley Manning — who's being held on remand at Quantico as the Army Private First Class who allegedly leaked the cables and gave Assange his biggest scoop — is most definitely on a low.

Posted by imran Monday, March 21, 2011


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