Manning held in solitary for 'protection'

2012-12-07 13:49

Fort Meade - WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning was placed in solitary confinement at a military jail to protect him from attacks by "patriotic" inmates, the Marine brig commander said on Thursday.

James Averhart, in charge of the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia, where Manning was held for nine months, said the suspect was held as a "maximum security prisoner" for his own safety.

"A lot of the population was very patriotic and knew about the allegations" that Manning had leaked a trove of military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy website run by Julian Assange, Averhart said.

"It was my responsibility if something could happen outside the [maximum security] facility to Manning."

Manning's attorneys say the conditions of his detention at Quantico amount to "unlawful pretrial punishment", and were so arduous that the case should be dropped.

The charges against the army private - which include "aiding the enemy", chiefly al-Qaeda - could see him spend the rest of his life in jail if convicted.


Averhart testified that other factors were also taken into account when deciding to hold Manning under such strict conditions, including his "depression" and "anxiety" over the charges that he faced.

The custody regime meant he was stripped of almost all his clothes at night under strict prevention of injury guidelines that military commanders contend were put in place because Manning was a suicide risk.

He was held under 24-hour suicide watch in a tiny cell and allowed only 20 minutes of sunlight a day.

Questioned by Manning's civilian lawyer David Coombs, the commander said he worried about placing the private under normal prison conditions out of fear of "provocation from him [Manning] to them [other prisoners], and them to him".

The other detainees "knew what was going on with the newspapers" about Manning's charges, Averhart added.

But he recognised that his fears were not based on any written reports from the guards. Rather, Averhart said, it was "just a feeling".

March trial

Averhart was among prison officials who recommended that Manning be kept on suicide watch even after psychiatrists said such conditions were not necessary. The strict detention regime is meant to prevent a detainee from escaping or harming himself.

Manning, aged 24, was serving in Iraq as a US army intelligence analyst when he was arrested in May 2010.

After he was arrested and questioned in Iraq, Manning was sent to a US jail in neighbouring Kuwait. He was transferred to the Quantico jail two months later.

Manning was held at Quantico for nine months until April 2011, when he was transferred to a US Army prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

His case is expected to go to trial in March.

Another nine to 12 witnesses are expected to testify between now and next week, according to legal experts.

  • avremel.niselow - 2012-12-07 14:12

    Traitors never do well in prison.

      dylan.sciarappa - 2012-12-07 17:46

      Traitor? All he has done is expose war crimes committed by us forces. Maybe you should do some research before commenting.

  • jannie.kotze.73 - 2012-12-07 14:15

    the usa r instrumental to the worst crimes in human history. manning is a example of how a criminal treats its enemy..may the usa goverment may go down with their pope, cursed

  • Ntutu Dlova - 2012-12-07 14:27

    in any country ,there's a limit to what the public should know, matters of national security shouldn't be public knowledge. put him in the general population cells and see how strong he is

  • juancarlos.copes.9 - 2012-12-07 15:56

    Manning is one of the great human rights martyrs of our time, along with Assange. I'm sure all you South Africans also agree with your very own, new secrecy law, the invasion of Iraq, control over freedom of speech, the Patriot Act, Stratfor and the removal of privacy for all. Prepare yourselves to be watched and controlled 24-7...

  • mark.a.fysh - 2012-12-07 19:10

    Bradley Manning held by brainwashed patriots to protect him from brainwashed patriots. Hand on my heart, this is confusing, even while playing the Stars and Stripes.

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