By ELAINE MATTHEWS and JYOTHI NATARAJAN
Bradley Manning, a 23-year-old private in the United States Army, was put in solitary confinement in a military prison outside of Washington, D. C. in July 2010. Kept alone in a six foot by 12 foot cell for 23 hours a day and prevented from exercising there, Private Manning is, according to his lawyer David Coombs, not allowed to have sheets or a pillow or to have any personal items in his cell. Every five minutes, he must respond when a guard talks to him.
Manning is charged with leaking (making public) a 2007 video of a deadly U.S. helicopter attack on people in Iraq. He is suspected of providing hundreds of thousands of additional documents to WikiLeaks, an organization that is publishing secret military and diplomatic documents. But Manning has not been tried in court nor convicted of any charge.
Supporters and human rights groups believe that his treatment amounts to pretrial punishment. Lawyer Glen Greenwald notes, “What the United States is doing is really a departure from Western norms in terms of how people are imprisoned.”
David House, a friend of Private Manning’s, is one of the few people who has been allowed to visit him in prison. After seeing Manning, House told reporters: “This solitary confinement has really taken a huge toll on him, definitely. From meeting with Bradley, from getting to know him and from watching his state degrade over time, the only conclusion I can reach is that this is torture.”