U.N. torture investigator says access to Manning denied, condemns solitary confinement
Report on Bradley Manning to be Released Soon
NEW YORK — Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, confirmed yesterday that the Department of Defense has blocked his requests for an unmonitored meeting with PFC Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower. He told reporters gathered at a U.N. General Assembly committee on human rights that he would be issuing a report on Bradley Manning’s case “in the next few weeks.”
Mendez noted that the Obama administration had offered the possibility of a meeting, but only under “conditions in which they could not confirm the confidentiality of my conversations with him.” He said that, according to the rules of his U.N. mandate, “that is a condition that we cannot accept.” Mendez explained further that he nevertheless offered to meet with PFC Manning, but that “he also chose not to waive his right to have a private conversation with me.”
“The Special Rapporteur’s report on Bradley Manning’s conditions of confinement unfortunately won’t be complete so long as the Obama administration prevents them from having a private conversation,” said Kevin Zeese, a legal adviser with the Bradley Manning Support Network. “The administration owes an explanation to the American people why they won’t let a U.N. official investigate evidence of Eighth Amendment violations committed against a U.S. citizen.”
Juan Mendez condemned the use of solitary confinement at yesterday’s press conference, arguing that under no circumstances should it be employed for longer than 15 days in excess of 22 hours a day. PFC Manning was held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day during the eight months he was detained at a brig in Quantico, Virginia.
Supporters of Bradley Manning recently surpassed a signature threshold on a new White House petition website demanding unmonitored access to Manning for the U.N. investigator. According to the website’s rules, the administration must now issue an official response to the request.