A psychologists’ group has sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates asking him to “rectify the inhumane, harmful, and counterproductive treatment” of the Army private accused of being WikiLeaks’ source for the US State Department cables.
In a letter dated Monday, Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) argued that PFC Bradley Manning, who has been held in solitary confinement at the Marine Corps brig in Quantico for the past five months, may be the victim of political retribution. The group also suggested that the psychological damage Manning may be suffering from spending 23 hours a day alone may ruin his bid for a fair trial.
“History suggests that solitary confinement, rather than being a rational response to a risk, is more often used as a punishment for someone who is considered to be a member of a despised or ‘dangerous’ group,” the letter stated. “In any case, PFC Manning has not been convicted of a crime and, under our system of justice, is at this point presumed to be innocent.”
Manning is alleged to have been the source of the 250,000 US State Department cables that WikiLeaks began publishing in late November. He is also alleged to have been the source of the “collateral murder” video that showed civilians and two Reuters reporters being killed in a 2007 US air raid in Baghdad.
Manning’s treatment came to light in an article by Salon’s Glenn Greenwald last month, prompting many activist groups to speak out in favor of the Army private who has become a folk hero to some and an enemy of the state to others.
According to his lawyer, Manning is not allowed to have personal items in his cell, has no contact with other prisoners, has no access to sheets or a pillow, and is allowed to “exercise” one hour a day, meaning he is allowed to go for a walk. It’s all part of a “prevention of injury” order placed on Manning that his defenders say is unnecessary, as he has shown no signs of violent behavior or suicidal tendencies.
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