In Germany and much of the world, the three are considered heroes in the fight for freedom of information and speech, for their respective leaking of classified U.S. documents.
“They have lost their freedom for the truth, so they remind us how important it is to know the truth,” said the artworks creator, Italian sculptor Davide Dormino, during the unveiling.
The artwork is not only an ode to the courage of these three whistleblowers, but also serves as a call to citizens to take a stand, as the three are standing on chairs with a fourth empty chair next to them.
US soldier Chelsea Manning (born Bradley Manning) was convicted in 2013 on charges relating to the Espionage Act for leaking US intelligence and military documents to Wikileaks. She is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence.
Edward Snowden is currently evading extradition to the US by taking asylum in Russia. He released classified information from the National Security Agency (NSA) to journalists revealing the scale of the US government’s global surveillance capabilities.
“The fourth chair is open to anyone here in Berlin who wants to get up and say anything they want,” Dormino told Deutsche Welle.
A number of people took the opportunity to stand upon the chair and speak, some with a loudspeaker, in an effort to show that they are not afraid to take a stand and speak truth similarly to these three whistleblowers.
“People are saying many different things. From politics to babbling to silence, from people who desperately are wanting to help Julian, Bradley and Edward to people who have no idea who they are. This chair is, I guess, a place of free speech,” said Dormino.
Sadly, most of the U.S. mainstream media has accepted the official U.S. government line, and attempted to call the actions and motivations of these three into question.