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US defends making WikiLeaks source sleep naked in military cell

Manning’s civilian lawyer had called Manning's treatment at Quantico Marine base in Virginia 'degrading'.

Written by Agencies | Washington |
March 5, 2011 3:13:41 pm

The Unites States has defended its decision to make US Army private Bradley Manning sleep naked in military cell.

A US military spokesman has said the decision was to prevent Manning from hurting himself in his cell.

First Lieutenant Brian Villiard said the decision was taken to keep Manning safe,secure and able to stand trial.

“The circumstances required that his clothing be removed as a precaution to ensure that he didn’t harm himself,” Fox News quoted Villiard,as saying.

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Villiard said privacy rules prevented him from discussing the circumstances that prompted the order,but he added: “I can tell you that this was event-driven.”

Earlier,Manning’s civilian lawyer,David E. Coombs,had called the treatment — at the Quantico Marine base in Virginia — degrading.

“This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification. It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated. Manning has been told that the same thing will happen to him again tonight. No other detainee at the brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation,” Coombs had said.

Earlier on Wednesday,the US had filed 22 additional charges against the Army intelligence analyst.

Manning initially faced 12 charges,including transferring classified military information to his computer and “delivering national defence information to an unauthorized source”.

As part of 22 additional counts,Army prosecutors said he “wrongfully and wantonly” caused intelligence to be published on the Internet,with the knowledge that it would be “accessible to the enemy”.

Aiding the enemy is a capital offence,under the Uniform Code of Military Justice,but the military is not seeking the death penalty.

The Army made the announcement of additional charges after seven months of investigation.

If Manning is convicted of all the charges,he faces life in prison,reduction in rank to the lowest enlisted pay grade,a dishonourable discharge and loss of all pay and allowances.

Trial proceedings against Manning have been on hold since last July,pending the results of a medical inquiry into Manning’s mental capacity and responsibility.

If that inquiry determines that he is mentally fit to be tried,the military equivalent of grand jury proceeding may be held.

The development comes amid an expanding US investigation that could lead to charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and others.

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