Inhumane Treatment of WikiLeaks Soldier Bradley Manning

US Private Bradley Manning is accused of leaking information to Wikileaks. © APGraphicsBank

US authorities must alleviate the harsh pre-trial detention conditions of Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking information to Wikileaks.

The US army private, 23, has been held for 23 hours a day in a sparsely furnished solitary cell and deprived of a pillow, sheets, and personal possessions since July 2010.

Amnesty International last week wrote to the US Defence secretary, Robert Gates, calling for the restrictions on Bradley Manning to be reviewed. In the same week, the soldier suffered several days of increased restrictions by being temporarily categorized as a ‘suicide risk’.

We’re concerned that the conditions inflicted on Bradley Manning are unnecessarily severe and amount to inhumane treatment by the US authorities.  Manning has not been convicted of any offense, but military authorities appear to be using all available means to punish him while in detention. This undermines the United States’ commitment to the principle of the presumption of innocence.

Last Tuesday, Manning was placed on ‘suicide risk’, which resulted in him being stripped of his clothes apart from underwear, and the confiscation of his prescription glasses for most of the day, which Manning says left him in “essential blindness”.


Q&A: Wikileaks and Freedom of Expression

The right to freedom of expression includes the right to receive and impart all kinds of information © Alex Milan Tracy/Demotix

International controversy over the Wikileaks release of US diplomatic cables continues to rage. In recent days, Paypal, Visa and Mastercard have barred their users from donating to Wikileaks, alleging that the site may be engaged in illegal conduct.  Amnesty International examines some of the human rights issues at stake.

Would prosecution of Julian Assange for releasing US government documents be a violation of the right to freedom of expression?

The US government has indicated since July 2010 that it is conducting a legal investigation into the actions of Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange for distributing secret documents.  A range of US political figures have called for a criminal prosecution of Assange.

According to Amnesty International, criminal proceedings aimed at punishing a private person for communicating evidence about human rights violations can never be justified. The same is true with respect to information on a wide range of other matters of public interest.