Amnesty calls on Britain to help WikiLeaks soldier

Last Updated: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - 14:06

London: Amnesty International urged Britain
to help ease the "harsh and punitive" detention conditions of
Bradley Manning, the US soldier suspected of leaking
information to WikiLeaks.

The rights group put pressure on the British government
yesterday to ensure that the army private`s detention
conditions adhered to international standards after it emerged
that the soldier`s Welsh mother made him a British citizen.

"His (Manning`s) Welsh parentage means the UK government
should demand his `maximum custody` status does not impair his
ability to defend himself," Amnesty`s UK director, Kate Allen,
said.

"We would also like to see Foreign Office officials
visiting him just as they would any other British person
detained overseas and potentially facing trial on very serious
charges," she added.

Extracts from a new Guardian book, "WikiLeaks: Inside
Julian Assange`s war on secrecy," detailed how the soldier
spent four years in Wales after his parents split up in 2001.

In another excerpt, published in Guardian today, it is
claimed that Manning "spends 23 hours a day alone in a six
foot (1.8 metre) by 12 foot cell, with one hour`s exercise in
which he walks figures-of-eight in an empty room."

"Manning`s friends say he is being subject to
near-torture in an effort to break him and have him implicate
(Julian) Assange in a conspiracy charge," the passage
continued.

WikiLeaks founder Assange is due to appear in court in
London on February 7-8 as he fights efforts by Sweden to
secure his extradition to face questioning over allegations of
sexual assault.

According to the book, Manning became disillusioned with
the army while serving in Iraq when an officer discarded his
advice over the detention of 15 Iraqis who had been arrested
for printing "anti-Iraqi literature."

The book claimed that Manning boasted he was able to
download the information unnoticed as his fellow intelligence
workers had "grown bored and disenchanted from the relentless
grind of 14-hour days, seven days a week.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, February 2, 2011 - 14:06

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