WikiLeaks film: but who will play Bradley Manning?

Nice “lookalikey” spot in the Guardian today in their story about who might be in the film about WikiLeaks. Xan Brooks says there’s jokey stuff going around about how Javier Bardem should play Guardian journalist David Leigh. Yes, I see the resemblance.

Who would play Assange? Well my boss (Mike “The Silver Fox” Blakemore) has ruled himself out, so it might have to be someone like Rhys Ifans. Feel free to make your own suggestions in the comments below.

Meanwhile, as John Kampfner says in a comment piece today, notwithstanding the impending Hollywood-isation there’s obviously a deep underlying seriousness to the whole saga of WikiLeaks’ fight for greater openness in international affairs.

And it doesn’t get much more serious than what’s happening to the alleged whistle-blower Bradley Manning in the US. The overnight news is that the US soldier is now being charged with another 22 alleged offences, including “aiding the enemy” (which carries a possible death penalty in the US). Other charges include: wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet; knowing that it was accessible to the enemy; multiple counts of theft of public records; transmitting defence information, and computer fraud. If convicted, Private Manning could be sentenced to life in prison (the prosecution has reportedly indicated that it will not seek the death penalty).

In January Amnesty wrote to the US Defence Secretary Robert Gates raising concerns about the appalling conditions in which Manning was being held at a naval prison in Virginia. Since last July he's been banged up 23 hours a day in a 6.7-square metre, window-less cell. All his meals have to be eaten in this cell. There is no table or chair. He has no association or contact with other detainees and even his one hour out of the cell a day (for exercise or to go to a “day-room”) has to be spent alone. He’s reportedly not permitted to keep personal possessions in his cell, apart from one book and magazine at a time. This, remember, is a man who has not been found guilty of any crime.

Because he’s been classified a “maximum custody detainee” and is monitored on a “Prevention of Injury” basis, there are numerous other restrictions. For example, he’s shackled when he gets a visit from his lawyer. He’s required to sleep in boxer shorts. And on and on (more details here).

It all looks like overkill, designed to punish Manning even before he’s been brought to trial. Amnesty’s called it “punitive” and the totality of his detention conditions “inhumane”.

It still remains to be seen whether Manning has actually broken any laws and meanwhile the US should treat him with decency and humanity until he’s brought to trial. Who will play him in any Spielberg-produced film? Let’s wait and see if he’s a free man when it’s made. Maybe he can play himself …

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