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Human rights groups denounce inhumane conditions for alleged WikiLeaks source

PFC Bradley Manning has been in a maximum-security prison in Virginia, USA for the past eight months after being accused of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks. This information includes the “Collateral Murder” video, which depicts a 2007 US helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 12 people. Manning has been in solitary confinement and under constant surveillance although he has not yet been tried or convicted of his crimes.

Manning is being held in the Quantico Confinement Facility under inhumane conditions. He spends every day in a 12’ x 6’ cell and he is only allowed out for one hour a day, which he spends exercising by walking around another room. He has no sheets, no pillows, and no personal items in his cell, and he has very little contact with the outside world. In December, Manning spent his 23rd birthday alone due to the harsh terms of his visiting hours.

These conditions have contributed to a decline in Manning’s physical and mental health. Manning’s lawyer, David Coombs, has said that Manning’s living conditions are abusive, and the UN has begun investigating Manning’s treatment on the grounds that it may amount to torture.

Manning is the child of a US father and a Welsh mother. He was born outside of the UK, but the British Nationality Act of 1981 dictates that he is British by descent. Therefore, Manning deserves consular assistance from the UK government, which he has not received.

Although the government does not generally step in when a person of dual nationality is being held in their other country of citizenship, it has made exceptions in the past on the grounds of human rights. Amnesty International and the UK Friends of Bradley Manning have both called on the UK government to support its incarcerated citizen. Thus far, the government has made no effort thus far to come to Manning’s aid, despite his inhumane and even torturous treatment in the prison.

Manning faces up to 52 years in prison if convicted of leaking the classified information, but his trial date has not been set.

A number of groups are working in support of Manning, but there is still much more that can be done. The British Friends of Bradley Manning is one of many groups seeking to call attention to Manning’s unjust treatment. They are putting pressure on Europe and the UK government to assist in alleviating Manning’s situation.

To join the email list for British Friends of Bradley Manning, contact vg@riseup.net