Supporters of WikiLeaks Soldier Heckle Obama

Thursday, 21 Apr 2011 05:48 PM

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Protesters interrupted President Barack Obama at a fund-raiser Thursday, breaking into song to press for the release of a U.S. soldier accused of leaking secret files that appeared on the WikiLeaks website.

Obama, who came to California to sell his deficit-reduction plan and raise money for his re-election campaign, was addressing a room of about 200 people -- many of whom paid as much as $35,800 to see him -- when a woman announced that she and others had composed him a song.

Then she and her nine table-mates broke into a song that called for 23-year-old soldier Bradley Manning to be released.

"Now, where was I?" the somewhat flustered president said after the group stopped. "There's an example of creativity."

Obama's administration has come under criticism for its treatment of Manning. The soldier is being held during an investigation of charges involving reams of sensitive diplomatic and military documents he is accused of leaking while posted as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

U.S. military officials have not said when Manning's trial might begin.

He was transferred Wednesday to a detention facility at Fort Leavenworth military base in Kansas after his lawyers complained he was being mistreated at a Marine brig in Virginia.

He was kept alone in his cell 23 hours per day and forced to sleep naked while being awakened repeatedly during the night. The Pentagon said this was done to ensure his well-being and that it had only happened on a few occasions.

In March, Obama said he had been assured by the Pentagon that Manning's treatment was appropriate. (Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Will Dunham and Vicki Allen)

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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