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Media: Bradley Manning: MEPs' open letter to the US government


The letter signed by more than 50 European parliament members expressing concern over whistleblower's treatment in custody

By staff, 29.11.2011,
To: US President Barack Obama Members of the US Senate Members of the US House of Representatives US secretary of defence Leon Panetta US secretary of the army John McHugh US army chief of staff Raymond T Odierno As members of the European parliament, who were elected to represent our constituents throughout Europe, we are writing to express our concerns about alleged human rights violations against Bradley Manning, a young soldier who has been accused of releasing classified information pertaining to possible US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are concerned that the US army has charged Bradley Manning with "aiding the enemy," a capital offence that is punishable by death. We have questions about why Mr Manning has been imprisoned for 17 months without yet having had his day in court. We are troubled by reports that Mr Manning has been subjected to prolonged solitary confinement and other abusive treatment tantamount to torture. And we are disappointed that the US government has denied the request of the United Nations special rapporteur on torture to meet privately with Mr Manning in order to conduct an investigation of his treatment by US military authorities. We call upon the United States government to allow Juan Méndez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, to conduct a private meeting with Bradley Manning, the accused WikiLeaks whistle-blower. Mr Méndez has made repeated requests to American officials to meet privately with Mr Manning in response to evidence that he was subjected to abusive confinement conditions while he was detained at a facility in Quantico, Virginia. Mr Manning was held in solitary confinement for 23 hours per day during the eight months he was incarcerated at that location. It appears that he was at times forced to sleep and stand at attention without any clothing. His legal counsel has documented additional incidents which indicate the possibility of other rights violations. Hundreds of US legal scholars have signed an open letter to the Obama administration, arguing that the conditions of confinement endured by Mr Manning at Quantico may have amounted to torture. Following worldwide calls for an end to the abusive treatment, Manning was moved to a facility in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where his conditions are said to have improved. The US military conducted an internal investigation into the allegations of mistreatment at Quantico. The preliminary results of this investigation found that Mr Manning was improperly placed on "prevention of injury" status, against the recommendations of qualified medical personnel. However, these findings were ultimately overturned by a military prison official who was implicated by the report. Therefore, the US military's internal investigation has been compromised by clear conflicts of interest. This so-called "prevention of injury" status was the justification for a number of extraordinary measures, such as denying Mr Manning comfortable bedding and not allowing him to exercise. By preventing UN officials from carrying out their duties, the United States government risks undermining support for the work of the United Nations 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. Finally, we in the European Union are totally opposed to the death penalty. And 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. Furthermore, Bradley Manning should not be forced to waive his right against self-incrimination in order to speak with anyone who seeks to investigate evidence of abuse in their official capacity. Consistent with these internationally recognised standards, as well as the rules governing his mandate, United Nations special rapporteur on torture Juan Méndez must be allowed to conduct an unmonitored meeting with Bradley Manning, without any further delay. Yours sincerely, 1. Marisa Matias 2. Christian Engström 3. Ana Gomes 4. Marietje Schaake 5. Christopher Fjellner 6. Jan Albrecht 7. Margrete Auken 8. Alexander Alvaro 9. Sandrine Bélier 10. Lothar Bisky 11. Pascal Canfin 12. Françoise Castex 13. Nessa Childers 14. Nikolaos Chountis 15. Daniel Cohn-Bendit 16. Tarja Cronberg 17. Véronique De Keyser 18. Bas Eickhout 19. Cornelia Ernst 20. Jill Evans 21. Göran Färm 22. Ilda Figueiredo 23. Sven Giegold 24. Mikael Gustafsson 25. Thomas Händel 26. Rebecca Harms 27. Anna Hedh 28. Jacky Henin 29. Elie Hoarau 30. Richard Howitt 31. Yannick Jadot 32. Ska Keller 33. Jürgen Klute 34. Jean Lambert 35. Philippe Lambert 36. Kartika Liotard 37. Sabine Lösing 38. Olle Ludrigsson 39. Ulrike Lunacek 40. Willy Meyer 41. Paul Murphy 42. Miguel Portas 43. Heide Rühle 44. Judith Sargentini 45. Carl Schlyter 46. Helmut Scholz 47. Marc Tarabella 48. Rui Tavares 49. Keith Taylor 50. Emilie Turunen 51. Marita Ulvskog 52. Derek Vaughan 53. Asa Westlund 54. Gabriele Zimmer