In Brief

Bradley Manning moved to medium-security prison

Move from Quantico to Fort Leavenworth is small victory for supporters of WikiLeaks ‘whistleblower’

Brad Manning

The US government has confirmed that it will move Bradley Manning, the soldier charged with passing confidential documents to WikiLeaks, from the military prison where he is currently being held.

Officials told the Associated Press that the 23-year-old private first class will now be held at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, having spent 10 months at the military brig in Quantico marine base in Virginia awaiting his court martial on 34 counts - including "aiding the enemy", which carries the death penalty.

Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's general counsel, said: "Given the length of time he's been in pretrial confinement at Quantico... and given what likely period of pretrial confinement in the future... we reached the judgment this would be the right facility for him."

Manning's supporters - who include human rights advocates such as Barack Obama's former legal advisor Laurence Tribe - say that he has been kept in conditions tantamount to torture in Quantico.

During his incarceration Manning has been held in his cell for up to 23 hours a day in solitary confinement. Last week the UN's special rapporteur on torture, Juan Mendez, hit out at the US government for not letting him visit Manning in Quantico.

On the surface, the move from Quantico to a medium-security institution such as Leavenworth is a sign that the widespread support for Manning, as previously reported on The First Post, has forced the Obama administration to soften its stance.

An open letter signed by Tribe and more than 250 others last week noted that while Obama had once been "a professor of constitutional law... an eloquent moral leader", his current conduct didn't meet "fundamental standards of decency".

However outspoken Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich, who has brought up the treatment of Manning in Washington, said Manning's relocation wasn't necessarily a positive development.

"Nothing the department of defence has done so far with respect to PFC Manning provides any assurance that his basic human and constitutional rights are being protected," Kucinich said.  

"Any move does not change the fact that he has been held under conditions which may constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the 8th amendment of the US constitution."

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