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Bradley Manning in 'isolation'? US defends treatment of WikiLeaks suspect

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is not in solitary confinement but is being held alone in a cell, the Pentagon says. He is suspected of stealing classified US documents and giving them to WikiLeaks.

By Anna MulrineStaff writer / December 17, 2010



Washington

The Pentagon pushed back Friday against news reports that accuse the US military of mistreating the soldier charged with stealing sensitive and classified documents and giving them to the WikiLeaks website, calling the allegations “blatantly false.”

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The renewed scrutiny into the treatment of Private First Class Bradley Manning, including whether he is being held in solitary confinement, comes on the heels of recent reports like one that ran Wednesday in Salon.com, charging that “Manning has been subjected for many months without pause to inhuman, personality-erasing, soul-destroying, insanity-inducing conditions of isolation.”

Even as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was released from jail Thursday to an estate outside of London to await an extradition hearing, critics argue that Manning’s confinement has been largely ignored.

Tom Malinowski, Washington advocacy director for Human Rights Watch, says his organization has not investigated Manning’s detention. “I don’t think we’ve really looked into that,” he says. “I can’t really tell you that we know how he’s being treated based on any assessment.”

Manning was arrested in May and held at a detention center in Kuwait before being transferred to the Quantico Marine Corps base brig in Virginia five months ago. According to the military charge sheet filed on May 29, Manning is accused of having "unauthorized possession of photographs relating to the national defense, to wit: a classified video of a military operation filmed at or near Baghdad ... and did willfully communicate, deliver and transmit the video ... to a person not entitled to receive it." He is also accused of "knowingly exceed[ing[ his authorized access on a secret Internet Protocol Router network computer." He is awaiting trial.

The Pentagon denies that Manning is being held in solitary confinement. True, a Pentagon spokesman says, Manning is being held alone in a cell. “But just being in a cell by yourself doesn’t constitute solitary confinement,” says Col. Dave Lapan.

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