Amnesty calls on Britain to help WikiLeaks soldier
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 Tuesday 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 Wednesday's Guardian, 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."
© 2011 AFP