United Nations chief torture investigator criticized the U.S. for not allowing him an unmonitored visit with Private First Class Bradley Manning, the man who is accused of releasing large amounts of classified information to the WikiLeaks website.
U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Juan E. Méndez said U.S. officials have not granted him an official, one-on-one visit with Manning.
In a statement issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Méndez said he is “deeply disappointed and frustrated” that the U.S. government has denied him access to Manning.
Manning has been confined 23 hours per day in a cell at the Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia since the end of last year, which has caused many—including rights activists and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg—to raise their eyebrows.
The 23-year-old Army private is being detained while the U.S. investigates charges that he leaked hundreds of thousands of secret State Department cables, which later appeared on the WikiLeaks website.
"Since December 2010, I have been engaging the U.S. Government on visiting Mr. Manning, at the invitation of his Counsel, to determine his current condition,” Méndez said in a statement. “Unfortunately, the U.S. Government has not been receptive to a confidential meeting with Mr. Manning.”
The human rights expert said that standard procedure calls for confidential and unmonitored visits with people claiming that their rights are being violated.
The U.S. Department of State told Méndez in March that they approve of a “private visit,” which would allow him to meet with Manning with supervision,” said the U.N. release. However, the agency objected to any “official visit,” which is supervised.
As the Special Rapporteur on Torture, Méndez should get international access to prison facilities around the world to make sure that prisoners are not being tortured. The role is independent from any government body in the world.
P.J. Crowley resigned as state department spokesperson last month after commenting that he thought the Department of Defense treatment of Manning was “Ridiculous, counterproductive, and stupid." Two weeks later, in his first public interview after the incident, Crowley defended his comments. “I thought the treatment of Bradley Manning was undermining what I considered to be a very legitimate prosecution of an individual who has profoundly affected U.S. national security,” Crowley told BBC.