Bradley Manning being mistreated, says Hillary Clinton spokesman
PJ Crowley says Pentagon is being 'ridiculous and stupid' by subjecting WikiLeaks suspect to punitive conditions in jail
Ed Pilkington in
guardian.co.uk, Friday 11 March 2011 15.21 GMT
Bradley Manning is facing multiple charges relating to his alleged releasing of state secrets. Photograph
Hillary Clinton's spokesman has launched a public attack on the Pentagon for the way it is treating military prisoner Bradley Manning, the
PJ Crowley, the assistant secretary of state for public affairs at the US state department, said Manning was being "mistreated" in the military brig at
As news of the remarks rippled through
Asked about the controversy at a White House press conference, Obama revealed he had asked the Pentagon "whether or not the procedures that have been taken in terms of his confinement are appropriate and are meeting our basic standards. They assure me that they are."
Obama would not respond specifically to Crowley's comments, which are the first critical remarks from within the administration about the handling of Manning. The prisoner is being held for 23 hours in solitary confinement in his cell and stripped naked every night.
Until now the
Manning has been charged with handing state secrets to an unauthorised party. The charges include aiding the enemy, which can carry the death penalty.
Crowley, speaking at an MIT seminar in Boston, did say he believed Manning was "in the right place". He was presumably referring to
The UN is investigating whether the treatment amounts to torture.
This week, in a legal letter, Manning gave his own description of conditions in the brig. "The determination to strip me of all my clothing every night since 2 March 2011 is without justification and therefore constitutes unlawful pretrial punishment," he wrote. The 11-page legal letter provided a rare insight into the state of mind of the prisoner, who has been held in solitary confinement for 10 months.
After he was arrested in
He describes being stripped and made to stand naked for inspection. "The guard told me to stand at parade rest, with my hands behind my back and my legs spaced shoulder-width apart. I stood at parade rest for about three minutes. The [brig supervisor] and the other guards walked past my cell. He looked at me, paused for a moment, then continued to the next cell. I was incredibly embarrassed at having all these people stare at me naked."
Manning and his lawyer David Coombs have been trying to convince the military authorities that he is psychologically healthy and does not need such a harsh regime. His supporters argue the treatment is punitive and designed to force him into a coerced confession.
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