Thursday, April 14, 2011

'Manning needs UK consular visit'

A photo of Bradley Manning, the US Marine currently being held prisoner at Quantico, Virginia for allegedly exposing secret information

Source: Press TV

The mother of a US soldier detained on suspicion of leaking US military secrets has urged British consular officials to visit her son, whose "physical and mental health is deteriorating."

Private Bradley Manning's Welsh mother, Susan Manning, has written a letter to British Foreign Secretary William Hague, expressing grave concerns over the health of her 23-year-old son, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.

She called on the UK consular officials to visit and check on the health of the US Army soldier who has been held since last July in a maximum security cell in Virginia.

The American soldier, who faces a military court-martial on charges of providing the website WikiLeaks with classified information, has been in custody under inhumane conditions that has promoted criticism worldwide.

In her letter, Susan Manning said that she visited her son in Quantico marine base in Virginia in February, travelling along with a number of relatives, who "were not allowed to see him."

"I was very distressed by seeing Bradley. Being in prison, and being held in the conditions which he is, is having a damaging effect on him physically and mentally. I am worried that his condition is getting worse," Bradley's mother said in the letter.

"If Bradley's being a British national means that someone from the British embassy can visit him, then I would like to ask if you can make that happen. I do not believe that Bradley is in a position to be able to request this himself, so I am asking as his mother on his behalf." Susan Manning added.

Manning's lawyer says because Bradley's mother is Welsh, the US Soldier is "British by descent," an argument which was recognized and verified by the British Foreign Office this month.

He says that Manning is being mistreated and kept in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and made to sleep naked.

On Tuesday, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez blamed Washington for blocking unrestricted access to the soldier in question, saying that he was "disappointed and frustrated by the prevarication" on the part of US officials.

Amnesty International expressed concern in January about the "harsh and punitive" conditions in which Manning is being held.

A coalition of 295 legal scholars from universities in the US and around the world signed a letter in April, protesting detention conditions that they say amounted to a violation of human rights and the US constitution.

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