HAGERSTOWN, Md. (AP) — A U.S. Army private charged in a massive leak of government secrets claims his harsh pretrial treatment during nine months in a Marine Corps brig was directed from high up the chain of command and warrants dismissal of the entire case, according to documents his civilian lawyer released Friday.
The 110-page motion alleges Pfc. Bradley Manning developed a rash from being forced to sleep beneath a stiff, suicide-prevention blanket and suffered an anxiety attack due to harassment by guards. It repeats well-publicized claims that Manning was forced for several days to surrender all his clothing at night and stand naked in his cell for roll call. For several days in January 2011, he was forbidden to wear his eyeglasses and forced to strip down to his underwear during the day, the motion contends.
The Defense Department has said that Manning’s treatment properly conformed to the “maximum custody” or “prevention of injury” classifications in which he was held in Quantico, Va., from July 29, 2010, to April 20, 2011, when he was moved to medium-security confinement at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Manning’s lawyers claim there was no legal or medical justification for the harsh restrictions, and that his custody status contradicted the recommendations of multiple psychiatrists.
Manning’s lawyers intend to have Manning testify about his Quantico experience during a hearing Oct. 1-5 at Fort Meade, according to the document. Manning hasn’t yet taken the stand during seven months of pretrial courtroom proceedings in his court-martial.
Military prosecutors didn’t immediately respond Friday to a request for comment on the motion posted by Manning’s civilian attorney, David Coombs, on his website.
In an accompanying summary, Coombs wrote that he recently became aware of emails revealing that the brig officer who ordered the restrictions was acting on orders from an unidentified, three-star general.
Coombs wrote that in a January 2011 meeting of multiple Quantico brig officers, an unidentified senior officer ordered that Pfc. Manning be held in maximum custody or injury-prevention status indefinitely. When a brig psychiatrist voiced concern about the lack of any medical basis for such an order, the senior officer declared: “We’ll do whatever we want to do,” Coombs wrote.
Manning faces 22 charges for allegedly sending hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and war logs to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq. Manning could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted of the most serious offense, aiding the enemy.
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