In advance of his first court appearance, a pre-trial hearing, on December 16, more than 50 members of the European parliament have sent an open letter to the U.S. government expressing concerns about the treatment of Wikileaks soldier Bradley Manning, the Guardian reports:
The MEPs said internal investigations into Manning's treatment in custody, which included solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day, inspections by officers every five minutes from 5am onwards and removal of his clothes, had been marred by "clear conflicts of interest".
They call for US authorities to grant Juan Méndez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, access to Manning. Mendez has made repeated requests for access to the military base where Manning is held, all of which have been refused by US authorities.
The open letter from European parliamentarians, which follows another signed by several hundred US legal scholars, questioned the charges against Manning and warned that his pre-trial treatment may harm the UN's work elsewhere, "particularly its mandate to investigate allegations of torture and human rights abuses".
"In order to uphold the rights guaranteed to Bradley Manning under international human rights law and the US constitution, it is imperative that the United Nations special rapporteur be allowed to properly investigate evidence of rights abuses. PFC Manning has a right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. People accused of crimes must not be subjected to any form of punishment before being brought to trial," they wrote.
"We certainly do not understand why an alleged whistleblower is being threatened with the death penalty, or the possibility of life in prison. We also question whether Bradley Manning's right to due process has been upheld, as he has now spent over 17 months in pre-trial confinement."
Meanwhile, WIRED reports that Manning's attorney claims that the government is withholding evidence favorable to Manning:
Manning’s defense attorney, David E. Coombs, is attempting to get evidence from the government to defend Manning in his upcoming pre-trial hearing on Dec. 16, but says the government is stonewalling him.
“The defense has repeatedly requested the below discovery in this case, but the government has consistently responded with a blanket denial of the defense request,” Coombs wrote in the partially redacted filing.
The evidence Coombs seeks includes copies of internal reports conducted by task forces assessing the damage from and the classification levels of the 250,000 State Department diplomatic cables and 500,000 classified Iraq and Afghanistan war field reports allegedly leaked by Manning to WikiLeaks.