Bradley Manning’s health deteriorating in jail, supporters say

The intelligence analyst suspected of leaking US diplomatic cables is being held in solitary confinement – (According to Julian Assange, “If indeed it is the case, as alleged by the Pentagon, that the young soldier – Bradley Manning – is behind some of our recent disclosures, then he is without doubt an unparalleled hero.”[The US embassy cables]).

Published on The Guardian, by Heather Brooke, December 16, 2010.

As Julian Assange emerged from his nine-day imprisonment, there were renewed concerns about the physical and psychological health of Bradley Manning, the former US intelligence analyst suspected of leaking the diplomatic cables at the centre of the storm.

Manning, who was arrested seven months ago, is being held at a military base in Virginia and faces a court martial and up to 52 years in prison for his alleged role in copying the cables.

His friends and supporters also claim they have been the target of extra-judicial harassment, intimidation and outright bribery by US government agents. 

According to David House, a computer researcher from Boston who visits Manning twice a month, he is starting to deteriorate. “Over the last few weeks I have noticed a steady decline in his mental and physical wellbeing,” he said. “His prolonged confinement in a solitary holding cell is unquestionably taking its toll on his intellect; his inability to exercise due to [prison] regulations has affected his physical appearance in a manner that suggests physical weakness” … //

… When the Washington Post tried to investigate the claim, an army criminal investigation division spokesman refused to comment. “We’ve got an ongoing investigation,” he said. “We don’t discuss our techniques and tactics.”

On 3 November, House, 23, said he found customs agents waiting for him when he and his girlfriend returned to the US after a short holiday in Mexico. His bags were searched and two men identifying themselves as Homeland Security officials said they were being detained for questioning and would miss their connecting flight. The men seized all his electronic items and he was told to hand over all passwords and encryption keys – which he refused. The items have yet to be returned, said House. He added: “If Manning is convicted, it will be because his individual dedication to human ethics far surpasses that of the US government.”

House, who met Manning through friends but came to know him only after his detention, said he was committed to his cause. “Like many computer scientists, I identify with the open government issues at the core of this case.” (full text).

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