Britain is pressing the United States about the conditions of confinement of Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old Army private who is accused of passing secrets to WikiLeaks.
Though he hasn’t yet had a hearing, Manning has been in a military brig for nearly a year in solitary confinement, and is permitted out of his cell just one hour a day. Manning has at times been required to sleep naked, a supposed suicide-prevention measure.
“(Those conditions serve) no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade Bradley Manning. I regard it as cruel and unnecessary,” Labour Party MP Ann Clwyd said in a House of Commons debate on Monday.
Manning technically has dual citizenship; he is a U.K. citizen since his mother is Welsh, and he lived in Wales for half a dozen years while attending school. But his attorney David Coombs said Manning does not consider himself a British citizen: “He is an American, and is proud to be serving in the United States Army.”
The British move comes after a campaign spearheaded by Naomi Colvin, who helps lead U.K. Friends of Bradley Manning, which latched onto his British citizenship as way to pressure the British government.
The Guardian reported that staff at the British embassy in Washington “expressed concerns” about Manning’s treatment to the State Department on March 29. British Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham said those concerns would be repeated if no action was taken.
“All people who are detained in custody deserve to be treated in detention according to the highest international standards, and we certainly expect nothing else, nothing less, from the United States,” Bellingham told lawmakers.
Despite widespread criticism of Manning’s conditions of confinement while awaiting a hearing, the Obama administration has dug in its heels, defending Manning’s conditions as nothing out of the ordinary. Last month PJ Crowley was forced out as chief State Department spokesman after he said that Manning’s treatment was “ridiculous” and “stupid.”
UK to press US over treatment of WikiLeaks suspect [AP]
Bradley Manning supporters welcome UK government’s expression of concern [Guardian UK]
UK gov ‘draws US attention’ to Bradley Manning concerns [Register UK]