US Army Private First Class Bradley Manning has been granted 112 days sentence credit should he be convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified US government documents to the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks in 2010.
Army Colonel Judge Denise Lind granted the sentence credit because brig staff at Marine Corps Base Quantico refused to accept the recommendations of mental health professionals that Manning wasn’t a danger to himself and should be removed from suicide risk.
Manning’s defence team argued the case should be dismissed because they say he was mistreated while being held in the brig at Quantico from July 2010 to April 2011. In November, Manning testified he was kept on suicide watch for months, confined to his cell for 23-hours a day with his activities severely restricted.
Brig staff said he was kept on suicide watch or prevention of injury status because they feared he would harm himself. On his Quantico intake form, Manning wrote he was “always planning never acting” on thoughts of suicide.
And he had fashioned a noose out of his bed sheets while in custody in Kuwait before being sent to Quantico.
Allegations of torture
Quantico commanders testified that they didn’t trust the brig psychiatrist, Captain William Hocter.
Earlier in 2010 another detainee under Hocter’s care had committed suicide. The judge acknowledged this incident led the brig staff to disregard his opinions.
The judge determined officials didn’t intend to punish Manning by keeping him under restricted status, and there wasn’t command pressure to influence his confinement. Quantico commanders testified that their facility was inadequate to handle someone with mental health issues for an extended period of time.
During his confinement at Quantico, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan Mendez tried to visit him to see the conditions he was being kept in but was denied access. The judge said he wasn’t on Manning’s visitor list and therefore had no expectation of being allowed to see him.
Last year, Mendez issued a report accusing the US government of torturing Manning.
In the report, Mendez wrote, “I conclude that the 11 months under conditions of solitary confinement (regardless of the name given to his regime by the prison authorities) constitutes at a minimum cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." Judge Lind rejected Mendez’s opinion that Manning was kept in solitary confinement. And she said the views of UN officials don’t constitute rule of law in the United States.
The judge spent nearly two hours reading the ruling on Tuesday. Pretrial hearings continue in the case this week. Manning’s trial is scheduled to begin on March 6, and he faces life in prison if convicted.