- Views & Opinions
A United Nations torture chief has called the United States’ treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning cruel, inhuman and degrading. Manning is the gay soldier facing court martial for allegedly giving security secrets to WikiLeaks.
After a 14-month investigation, the UN special rapporteur concluded “imposing seriously punitive conditions of detention on someone who has not been found guilty of any crime is a violation of his right to physical and psychological integrity as well as of his presumption of innocence.”
Speaking at a recent meeting in Geneva, Juan Mendez, the UN’s top official on torture, added, “I believe Bradley Manning was subjected to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in the excessive and prolonged isolation he was put in during the eight months he was in Quantico.”
The report and Mendez’ statement motivated Manning supporters to urge the Obama administration to allow UN officials to meet with Manning, a request that previously has been denied.
Manning likely will go to trial in May on allegations that he gave more than 700,000 secret U.S. documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks for publication. Prosecutors say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange collaborated with Manning.
Manning could be imprisoned for life if convicted of aiding the enemy, the most serious charge.
During a preliminary hearing in December, military prosecutors produced evidence that Manning downloaded and electronically transferred to WikiLeaks nearly half a million sensitive battlefield reports from Iraq and Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables, and video of a deadly 2007 Army helicopter attack that WikiLeaks shared with the world and dubbed “Collateral Murder.”
Defense lawyers claim Manning was a troubled young soldier whom the Army should never have deployed to Iraq or given access to classified material while he was stationed there from late 2009 to mid-2010.
Defense lawyers also say that others had access to Manning’s workplace computers.
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