(WASHINGTON) — The group supporting Bradley Manning, the Army private who is accused of releasing more than 700,000 confidential government documents to WikiLeaks, has unveiled their latest effort to gain widespread support for Manning — a billboard in Washington, D.C.
The billboard at 1240 New York Ave. NE displays a picture of Manning with the words “Free Bradley Manning” and “Blowing the whistle on war crimes is not a crime.”
“Our goal was to basically display broad public support for Bradley,” said Jeff Paterson, project director of Courage to Resist. “We think Bradley deserves the same amount of support that Daniel Ellsberg received when he released the Pentagon papers.”
The group’s decision to post the billboard comes a week before a recommendation to court-martial Manning is expected. The Investigating Officers recommendation is expected on Monday, but could come later if an extension is requested.
Paterson said they will keep the billboard for at least one month, probably two, which costs the group $16,000 a month. They already have two billboards in Kansas City near Fort Leavenworth, where Manning is being held.
“We are doing everything we can to support Bradley both inside and outside the courtroom,” Paterson said. “We asked supporters if they wanted to see a billboard and 300 people came forward and contributed.”
The group is also hoping to do a series of DC Metro ads in support of Manning, if the case is recommended for court-martial.
Courage to Resist hosts the defense fund for Bradley Manning and are paying all of his legal expenses. Paterson estimates that they have spent around $130,000, and expect to spend another $50,000 through the court-martial proceedings. This cost includes David Coombs, Manning’s civilian defense expert, co-counsel and consultants.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Eliott C. McLaughlin and Paul Vercammen, CNN
Dakin Andone, CNN
Samira Said, CNN
Tal Kopan, CNN