Edward Snowden, the man who gave National Security Agency files to the Guardian and the Washington Post, could get a helping hand in his asylum bid from another prominent leaker: Bradley Manning.
Speaking to the Global Post, Hong Kong lawyer Patricia Ho said Snowden might be able to use Manning's mistreatment in military custody as evidence that he could be subject to cruel and unusual punishment if he is sent back to the United States.
"I would imagine given the similarity in the cases that Snowden could easily say, 'Well, I fear that the same would happen to me,' and use that as a basis to claim protection in Hong Kong," she told the Global Post. "If he does that I would say his chances of protection would be fair."
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence announced Sunday, hours after Snowden revealed that he leaked files on the NSA's phone records and PRISM collection programs, that his case had been referred to the Department of Justice. Snowden has said that he fled to Hong Kong for its tradition of free speech, and he has also indicated that he is interested in seeking asylum in a country like Iceland.
Manning was infamously subjected to what U.N. special rapporteur on torture Juan Ernesto Mendez said last year was "cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment" during part of the three years he awaited trial for his disclosures to WikiLeaks.
For eight months in the Marine brig at Quantico, he was held in conditions akin to solitary confinement. For several days, he was forced to strip naked at night and then stand at attention in front of his fellow soldiers, still without clothes, in the morning.
Manning's treatment included "excessive and prolonged isolation," Mendez said.
Manning's trial entered its fourth day on Monday. If convicted of all the charges against him in his court martial, he could be given a life sentence.
Snowden told the Guardian in an interview published Sunday that he was more selective than Manning, but the Army private first class was "a classic whistleblower."