US whistleblower's mom asks for help to get son released
Ex-drone operator receive threats from FBI after revealing criminal nature of US drone program
The mother of internationally known whistleblower Brandon Bryant started an online donation campaign to pay for her son's $100,000 bail and get him out of jail.
Bryant, 34, an ex-drone pilot for U.S. Air Force who has made global headlines after exposing civilian drone crimes of the U.S. army across the world, was jailed Feb. 11 in his home state of Montana on felony charges of allegedly threatening city council members in Missoula County in a YouTube video posted Dec. 19.
His mother, LanAnn Bryant, however, says it is a "politically motivated" case.
In a video shared on GoFundMe crowdfunding website to plea for help from Bryant's supporters, Bryant said her son has no criminal record, "yet he is held on a $100,000 bail."
Calling her disabled son's incarceration "politically motivated" and a breach of American Disabilities Act, the elder Bryant said her son only wanted to make a positive difference in the community.
"Under detention, he is isolated from his family, friends, and the medically mandated emotional support animal," she added.
She has raised nearly $3,000 since Feb. 16.
A case shrouded in mystery
Earlier in February, Bryant was indefinitely banned from Missoula City Council meetings and jailed after he was deemed a threat to public safety and arrested for threatening public officials.
"Sir, I never talked about the City Council, I never threatened the City Council," Bryant said during his first trial appearance, denying threat allegations multiple times as he appeared via video from the Missoula County Detention Center.
He pleaded not guilty to the charges during a second appearance Feb. 20 at the Missoula District Court, where he was defended by attorneys Robin Hammond and Jake Coolidge.
Despite repeated attempts by Anadolu Agency, Deputy County Attorney Matt Jennings, who pressed charges against Bryant and his staff Feb. 19, declined to comment on the case.
Why Bryant was arrested in February, months after the alleged threatening video is unknown.
His next court appearance in scheduled for April 27.
Who is whistleblower Bryant?
Bryant was enlisted in the U.S. Air Force for six years from 2006 to 2011, operating Predator drones as a camera operator from his office in Las Vegas, Nevada, to make targeted killings in Afghanistan and Iraq thousands of miles away.
After calling it quits with the military July 4, 2011, he started suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and decided to speak out against the American military, which he called "worse than the Nazis."
According to a document Bryant received during his honorable discharge from military duty, it was confirmed his unit carried out 1,626 "targeted killing operations," killing over 2,300 people, which shocked Bryant, as he was not fully aware of the scope of his work.
He estimated he was directly involved 13 killings by drone attacks.
In an interview with GQ magazine in 2013, he explained the atrocities of the U.S. military and its crimes against humanity in detail, saying at one point he could no longer stand what he was doing after he learned he killed a child, rather than a dog, as has his superiors made him believe.
After firing a Hellfire missile, he saw a child exit the target building as the missile struck the place, and immediately notified his superiors about the situation.
His superiors, apparently angry with Bryant's inquiry, said "it was a f***ing dog, drop it."
Threats from FBI
Bryant testified against the inhumane nature of U.S. drone programs in front of an expert council at the United Nations in 2014, followed by further testimonies in Germany in 2015, where he described the key role U.S. Ramstein Air Base in Germany plays in the American drone operations.
In 2015, two American Air Force officers showed up at his mother’s house in Missoula, Montana.
He said they told her she was on an ISIS “hit list,” which Bryant's attorney called a clear sign of whistleblower intimidation, according to Shadowproof, which describes itself as a "press organization driven to expose systemic abuses of power in business and government."
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