Wednesday, April 13, 2011

UN raps US for blocking Manning visits

Private Bradley Manning is reportedly subject to extreme conditions, but the Pentagon has denied it is mistreating the American soldier.

Source: Press TV

The United Nations has blasted Washington for blocking unrestricted access to Private Bradley Manning, an American soldier held on suspicion of leaking US army classified files.

Juan Mendez, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, said Tuesday that he was "disappointed and frustrated by the prevarication" he saw from US officials, the United Press International (UPI) reports.

He added in a statement issued from his Geneva office that he had been trying to organize an unmonitored visit to check on Manning's condition since last December.

However, the United States has only allowed him to talk to the soldier with a prison official present.

Mendez has urged Washington to reconsider the move.

He argues that his UN mandate requires unrestricted access to all places of detention, as it is the only way to verify whether the detainees are ill-treated.

Richard Falk, another UN Special Rapporteur on torture, called the US block an "embarrassment" for Washington.

"I do not understand the logic behind this except as a vindictive response to the release of the material which he is accused of releasing," he said.

Manning has been held in a maximum-security detention facility at Quantico Marine base in Virginia since July.

The 23-year-old army private was arrested in May and held at a detention center in Kuwait before being transferred to the US.

He now faces a military court-martial on charges of providing the website WikiLeaks with classified information.

The leaks include a video of a 2007 US Apache helicopter attack in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, which killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

Manning's lawyer has filed a complaint with the Quantico brigade accusing them of abusing his client.

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

US defense officials have so far denied the torture allegations.

However, last month, US State Department spokesman Phillip Crowley resigned after he said US treatment of Private Manning was "stupid."

Manning could face decades in prison for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks under the military code of justice.

WikiLeaks has bedeviled the US government with damaging revelations about American policies overseas.

In October 2010, the website released nearly 400,000 US military reports about operations in Iraq.

In July, it released more than 70,000 other reports from the war in Afghanistan.

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