Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of passing on some 720,000 diplomatic and military documents to the whistle-blower site Wikileaks, is to be moved from a military brig in Quantico, Virginia to a military prison in Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Manning has been charged with “aiding the enemy,” a capital offense.
As the BBC notes, the Fort Leavenworth facility is “better equipped to handle long-term pre-trial stays” as it has better supports for mental health (Manning’s psychiatric condition has come under question). It also has better exercise facilities and more opportunities for prisoners to interact with other detainees, should officials permit these.
Concerns about Manning’s treatment have extended far beyond the US:
Last week, UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez said US officials had blocked his requests for unmonitored visits to Pte Manning, in part aimed at determining whether he had been mistreated.
Ray McGovern, a member of the Bradley Manning Support Network’s Advisory Board, said this was “unprecedented”.
“What it is, pure and simple, is an intimidation technique, lest any of Bradley Manning’s colleagues, any of the other people in the armed forces, be tempted to do what Bradley Manning did, and that was to expose war crimes,” he told the BBC World Service.
Manning’s supporters say that he has been held in his cell for 23 hours and is regularly required to undress.
The week before last, 250 of the US’s most eminent legal scholars signed a letter protesting Manning’s treatment. The letter was published in the New York Review of Books and written by Bruce Ackerman of Yale Law School and Yochai Benkler of Harvard Law School, says that Manning is being held in “degrading and inhumane conditions” that are not only illegal and unconstitutional, but could amount to torture.
Over the past year, Wikileaks has published a trove of documents, including US diplomatic cables spanning five decades and top secret documents about the Iraq War and the war in Afghanistan.
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