Manning could be more isolated in new prison: friends

21st April 2011, Comments 0 comments

The transfer of Bradley Manning, a US soldier held for allegedly passing classified documents to WikiLeaks, to a new prison supposedly to improve his conditions, could end up isolating him more, supporters said Wednesday.

Manning was transferred Wednesday from a military prison at Quantico, Virginia, to another in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, according to the Pentagon, which has said the Kansas facility is better suited for a multi-month pretrial phase.

The 23-year-old Welsh-born US army intelligence officer, who allegedly provided the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks with a trove of secret military and diplomatic documents, has been imprisoned at Quantico since July 2010.

Manning's detention conditions, which have included solitary confinement and being forced to sleep naked, have drawn the attention of Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and the British government.

In February Amnesty called Manning's detention "harsh and punitive" and urged Britain to intervene on his behalf.

The Defense Department said Tuesday his transfer was imminent. And by Wednesday he was at the Kansas facility.

In Kansas, Manning "is now in-processing at the facility and, over the next five to 7 days, he will receive an in-depth assessment" including psychological and psychiatric care, the Pentagon said.

But for his supporters, the transfer of 23-year-old Manning could end up adding to his isolation.

"I'm concerned that the military is simply moving to further isolate PFC Manning," said Jeff Paterson of Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network.

"PFC Manning's transfer from Virginia to Kansas limits his access to his civilian attorney David Coombs of Rhode Island," said attorney Kevin Zeese, an organizer with the Bradley Manning Support Network. "It also severely limits visitation opportunities by his (US) East Coast family and friends."

Manning, a former intelligence official in Iraq, faces potential life imprisonment in his WikiLeaks case.

© 2011 AFP

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