Pentagon rejects allegations of mistreating WikiLeaks suspect

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Pentagon has flatly rejected allegations that a US Army private charged with leaking classified material to WikiLeaks has been mistreated.

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters Wednesday that the detention of Private Bradley Manning, 23, is consistent with any other soldier held under maximum security in a military brig in Quantico, Virginia.

“He is being held in the same quarters section with other pretrial detainees. He’s allowed to watch television. He’s allowed to read newspapers. He’s allowed one hour per day of exercise,” Morrell said.

“He is in a cell by himself, but that is like every single other pretrial detainee at the brig,” he added. “It just so happens that the configuration of the brig is that every individual is confined to his or her own cell.”

Morrell said Manning was placed under two days of suicide watch last week at the discretion of the brig commander.

Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, last week wrote on his blog that he had filed a formal complaint over Bradley’s treatment and argued that the suicide watch was not authorised by a medical professional. Morrell said the brig commander ultimately makes decisions with the input of doctors.

Manning has been charged with leaking a classified video of a 2007 US Apache helicopter assault in Baghdad that was published by WikiLeaks last year. He was also charged with downloading other classified material while stationed in Iraq as an intelligence officer.

Morrell said Manning remains a “person of interest” in the much larger leaks of secret documents also published by WikiLeaks last year, including massive caches of Afghan war-related documents and State Department cables.

“This is a very broad, very robust investigation that will look any and every place to find all those who may or may not have been involved in the leak of this classified information,” Morrell said.

Amnesty International said in London earlier this week that it has written a letter to Defence Secretary Robert Gates urging him to ease the conditions under which Manning is being held.

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