Bradley Manning begs for better prison conditions
Father finally speaks out as WikiLeaks soldier claims he is suffering ‘pre-trial punishment’
The 23-year-old American soldier Bradley Manning claims he has been "left to languish under unduly harsh conditions" at the US Marine base in Virginia where he has been held in solitary confinement since last summer, accused of passing classified documents to WikiLeaks.
In an 11-page letter released by his lawyer, David Coombs, Manning writes that he is being subjected to "unlawful pre-trial punishment". He is stripped naked every night and forced to stand as if he was on the parade ground for prison supervisors. He is under constant supervision and is only allowed out of his cell for one hour a day.
The letter was written in a bid to have a 'Prevention of Injury' restriction order lifted. The PoI order was recently extended, meaning he continues to be kept under these strict conditions.
The decline in Manning's health since he arrived in the US from Kuwait where he was originally held has been well documented, and the UN has even launched an investigation to determine whether or not his treatment constitutes torture. Amnesty International has called on the British government to take action because his mother in Welsh and therefore Manning is a British national.
In January, Manning was placed on suicide watch. He believes this was because of a protest held outside the base. In the letter he says: "I was stripped of all clothing with the exception of my underwear. My prescription eyeglasses were taken away from me and I was forced to sit in essential blindness."
In support of his claim for the PoI to be lifted, Manning’s letter includes observation records that describe him as "respectful, courteous and well spoken" and say he is not suicidal. Psychiatrists have also said that the PoI order should be lifted.
So bad are the conditions in which he is being held that his father Brian, who urged Manning to sign up and join the army, has spoken for the first time about his son's incarceration. He said: "It's shocking enough that I would come out of our silence as a family and say: 'Now, then, you crossed the line. This is wrong.'"
Earlier this month, 22 new charges were brought against Manning, a private in the US Army, over the passing of data to WikiLeaks. The new charges include one of 'aiding the enemy' which carries the death penalty. ·
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