Crowdfunded Court Reporters Will Work Manning Trial

on Tuesday, Jun. 4th

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The trial of Bradley Manning, the solider accused of engineering the largest known leak of state secrets in history started this week in Maryland.

Civil liberties experts are watching the trial closely, and the conditions under which Manning has been held have come under heavy scrutiny.

Also setting observers ill at ease: the federal government's refusal to share the official court transcripts. However an ingenious solution to that obstacle to public accountability has been devised in the form of a crowdfunding campaign.

The explanation, after the jump.

Xeni Jardin of Boing Boing brings good news for open access advocates:

Over the past month, Freedom of the Press Foundation (I'm on the board) has been crowdfunding money to hire a professional stenographer to provide daily transcripts of the court martial of accused WikiLeaks whistleblower Bradley Manning. His court martial started this week and will be very important for the future of journalism, whistleblowers’ rights and government secrecy—yet, paradoxically, the government refuses to provide public transcripts of the proceedings.

The judge and the prosecutor are not objecting to the crowdfunded stenographer working in the media area. Which means that there will be transcripts available, even if the taxpayer funded ones will not be accessible.

Manning is one of the principle characters in the new documentary We Steal Secrets: The Story of WikiLeaks which we previewed recently. The film is excellent, and makes an incredible primer on the case.

The outcome of this trial and the legal precedent it sets is going to have political consequences for decades.

Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)

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