On January 8, a military judge ruled that Army PFC Bradley Manning was mistreated by the Army while in detention in military prisons.
Colonel Denise Lind, the judge presiding at Manning’s court martial, found that the young man, accused of passing a massive amount of sensitive documents to Wikileaks, was subject to extremely harsh conditions and thus made a corresponding reduction in any sentence Manning may eventually receive.
The Guardian’s Ed Pilkington reports that Lind “granted him [Manning] the dispensation as a form of recompense for the unduly long period in which he was held on suicide watch and prevention of injury status while at the brig at Quantico marine base in Virginia where he was detained from 29 July 2010 to 20 April 2011.
Private Manning, 24, from Crescent, Oklahoma, has been detained since he was arrested on May 29, 2010 while on deployment with the 10th Mountain Division in Iraq. While on duty near Baghdad, Manning had access to the Secret Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet) and the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. SIPRNET is the network used by the U.S. government to transmit classified information.
Manning’s arrest came as the result of information provided to the FBI by a computer hacker named Adrian Lamo. Lamo told agents that during an online chat in May 2010, Manning claimed to have downloaded classified information from SIPRNet and sent it to WikiLeaks.
According to published reports, the material Manning is accused of unlawfully appropriating includes a large cache of U.S. diplomatic cables (approximately 250,000), as well as videos of an American airstrike on Baghdad conducted in July 2007 and a similar attack in May 2009 on a site near Granai, Afghanistan (an event sometimes known as the Granai Massacre).
On July 27, 2012, the defense counsel representing Manning filed a motion to dismiss “owing to the unlawful pretrial punishment to which PFC Manning was subjected while at Marine Corps Base, Quantico [Virginia].” Another motion was filed requesting a continuance of the proceedings owing to the slow production by the government of reams of documents that are “obviously material to the preparation of the defense.”
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Photo of Army Pfc. Bradley Manning being escorted out of a courthouse in June 2012: AP Images