UK to press US over treatment of WikiLeaks suspect

AP News
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Posted: Apr 05, 2011 8:59 AM
UK to press US over treatment of WikiLeaks suspect

British diplomats will press the United States anew over concerns about the military's treatment of a U.S. Army private suspected of supplying thousands of sensitive files to WikiLeaks.

The Foreign Office said Tuesday it first contacted the U.S. last month about the conditions under which 23-year-old Bradley Manning was being held at a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, but officials would make a new approach after Manning's plight was discussed by British lawmakers.

Manning is being held in military detention in solitary confinement for all but an hour every day, and is stripped naked each night and given a suicide-proof smock to wear to bed. His lawyer has complained that Manning's treatment is degrading and punitive, a charge the U.S. military has denied.

"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," British Foreign Office minister Henry Bellingham told lawmakers.

"(Those conditions serve) no purpose other than to humiliate and degrade Bradley Manning. I regard it as cruel and unnecessary," opposition Labour Party legislator Ann Clwyd said in a House of Commons debate late Monday.

Last month, the chief State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley quit after he described the treatment of Manning as "ridiculous" and "stupid."

Manning was charged in July with mishandling and leaking classified data in connection to disclosures made by the WikiLeaks secret-spilling site.

In early March, the Army filed 22 new charges against him, including aiding the enemy, a crime that can bring the death penalty or life in prison. However, Army prosecutors have notified the Manning defense team that it will not recommend the death penalty.

Trial proceedings against Manning have been on hold since July, pending the results of a medical inquiry into his mental capacity.

Bellingham confirmed that Manning is a British citizen, but said he has not requested formal help from the U.K. government. Though born in Oklahoma, Manning moved to his mother's native Wales when his parents separated and qualifies as a British citizen under U.K. law.

Bellingham said he would "instruct our officials at our embassy in Washington again to report our concerns to officials in the State Department" and talk with Foreign Secretary William Hague to see if Britain could take any further action.

WikiLeaks deeply angered U.S. officials by publishing tens of thousands of secret U.S. military documents on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and secret U.S. diplomatic cables from around the world.