Kucinich requests to see alleged WikiLeaks source

Rep. Dennis Kucinich
© AFP/File Tim Sloan

AFP/Activist Post

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A US lawmaker deeply critical of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan asked the Pentagon on Friday to let him visit an imprisoned soldier held on suspicion of leaking secrets to WikiLeaks.

Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich made the request in a letter to US Defense Secretary Robert Gates that echoed charges from rights groups that the soldier, Bradley Manning, has been held in unduly severe conditions.

“As you know, I am concerned about reports of his treatment while in custody that describe alarming abuses of his constitutional rights and his physical health,” Kucinich wrote.

Amnesty International said late last month that the 23-year-old army private has been held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day in a sparsely furnished cell at the Quantico Marine base in Virginia since July.

The group said last month it was worried that the conditions of his detention were “unnecessarily severe and amount to inhumane treatment.”

Manning was arrested in May on suspicion of downloading classified US military documents.

“Private Manning’s guilt or innocence is a question for adjudication and his treatment at Quantico severely undermines the presumption of innocence as enshrined in the US Constitution and raises questions as to whether he is truly able to stand trial,” said Kucinich.

“His care while in the custody of the Department of Defense is the responsibility of the US Government and as a member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform it is my duty to conduct effective oversight,” he said.

The Pentagon says Manning is being treated in the same way as other inmates under the “maximum custody” regime.

WikiLeaks has yet to reveal its source for a trove of US military and diplomatic documents published in recent months, but suspicion has focused on Manning, who worked as a low-ranking army intelligence analyst in Iraq.

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