After fourteen months of investigation, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez has published his report on the United States’ “cruel and inhuman treatment” of Pfc. Bradley Manning, who allegedly released classified information to WikiLeaks. The findings are part of a report on “torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” in countries of the world.
Mendez 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.” He demanded to know why the government was holding an “unindicted detainee in solitary confinement.” The US government said Manning was under “prevention of harm watch” and was not being held in “solitary confinement.” However, the government never provided details on “what harm was being prevented.”
The government asserted in a response to Mendez that the “brig commander” had authorization to “impose” an “isolation regime” because of the “seriousness of the offense” for which Manning would eventually be charged.
Mendez tried to get a private unmonitored meeting with Manning on the conditions of his detention. According to the report, the US government would not guarantee the conversation would be private. Mendez declined to meet because it would violate terms applied universally in “fact-finding.” He sent a follow-up letter to the government on May 13, 2011. The government continued to refuse to grant Mendez a “private, unmonitored and privileged” meeting with Manning.
The report renews Mendez’s request for a private unmonitored meeting with Manning.
Manning has been in detention without trial for six hundred and fifty-nine days. He was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq and shortly after was transferred to Quantico Marine brig. He was held in solitary confinement until public outrage at the harsh measures of which he was being subjected led him to be transferred to the Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth. This happened in April 2011, eleven months after he arrived at Quantico.
In June 2011, it was discovered through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request that the brig staff had mostly ignored the work of psychiatrists and psychologists. Multiple times, he was recommended for removal of “prevention of harm” or “prevention of injury” status.
It is not likely that Manning will have his trial until August of this year. By then, he will have been held in detention for eight hundred days.
An Article 32 or pre-trial hearing on the twenty-two charges against him, including the most severe charge of “aiding the enemy,” has already been held by the military at Fort Meade. All of those charges proceeded onward, and, in February, he was arraigned and formally charged.
Manning has not pled guilty or not guilty. His next court dates are March 15 and 16. The court at Fort Meade will hear pre-trial motions that must be addressed before his case can proceed to trial.
In the past months, members of Icelandic parliament have nominated Manning for a Nobel Peace Prize. A Russian human rights official has condemned the US government’s treatment of Manning. And, NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake has offered some words of support for what Manning allegedly did.
The Bradley Manning Support Network and others who support Manning will be out demonstrating at Fort Meade during the upcoming hearing. There will also be demonstrations around the world at US embassies and in various locations throughout the United States.
*Below is coverage by “The Young Turks” of the UN Special Rapporteur Mendez’s condemnation (from March 7):