WikiLeaks suspect in torture claim

Posted by Trent Nouveau

WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning is asking several military psychiatrists to testify at an upcoming pretrial hearing that he was held in custodial conditions so harsh they amounted to torture. 

Pfc. Manning faces a total of 22 charges - including aiding the enemy - after thousands of classified documents allegedly downloaded by the soldier ended up on WikiLeaks.

Manning's civilian defense team, led by David Coombs, is attempting to convince the judge to drop all charges against the former army intelligence analyst on grounds that he was subjected to illegal pretrial treatment in violation of the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.

Indeed, Manning was held at the Quantico marine base in Virginia following his arrest in May 2010 at a military base near Baghdad. For the next 8 months, the Pfc. was subjected to extraordinarily harsh conditions - supposedly for his own protection under a so-called "prevention of injury" order or POI.

According to the UK-based Guardian, Manning wants to call an unidentified military psychiatrist who consistently recommended that the prisoner be removed from his restrictive conditions. 

Apparently, the advice was consistently ignored, as the Pfc. was subjected to solitary confinement, stripped naked, held in a bare cell and made to wear a rough smock at night. Military chiefs in the brig allegedly said they "we will do whatever we want to do."

Manning's court martial is currently scheduled for September, but may be postponed due to ongoing legal wrangling. If found guilty, the soldier is likely to spend the rest of his life in a military brig without the possibility of parole.

Although the Pentagon appears set on making an example out of Manning, a number of organizations, activists and artists have leapt to the defense of the former army analyst, claiming the Pfc. shouldn't be punished for his role in leaking secret documents about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

In addition, many have questioned whether the Pentagon is even capable of offering Manning a fair trial.

"I don't think anyone disagrees that the government has enough evidence to start a court martial proceeding. The question is whether they should be proceeding," Dan Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, told The Guardian back in December 2011.

"It's outrageous for two reasons. How can there be a fair court martial when the commander in chief, president Obama himself, pronounced that he is guilty [of breaking the law]? Secondly, he has been subjected to 10 and a half months of clearly abusive treatment that in my opinion was immoral and illegal."