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Bradley Manning could face death penalty

New charges include an offence of "aiding the enemy".

Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks, has been handed 22 extra charges as part of his court martial process. The new charges were filed on Tuesday under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and issued in a statement by the Pentagon yesterday. They include the offence of "aiding the enemy" which possibly carries the death penalty. Other charges include wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the internet, knowing that it will be accessed by the enemy, and violating Army regulations on information security.

Last week, I met David House, the only person allowed to visit Manning at the Marine Corps Brig in Quantico, Virginia apart from his lawyer, David Coombs (the full article is in this week's magazine). Manning has been held there since 29 July 2010, and House has been visiting him since September, and has noticed his rapid deterioration. Manning, who is held under a Prevention Of Injury (POI) order, spends 23 hours a day alone in his cell, and is now unable to speak at any length or with coherence. He is allowed out for an hour to walk in circles around an empty room. For three days in January he was put on suicide watch, his glasses were removed and he was kept in his cell for 24 hours a day, although his psychological evaluations have stated that he is not a risk to himself. He has also gained weight and appears exhausted.

Most recently, House told me, he has appeared almost catatonic, barely able to communicate at all. "I can't really describe how bizarre it is to see a 110-pound, five-foot-three individual done up in chains from his hands to his feet, connected at the waist, so he can't really move," he said. Pentagon officials maintain that Manning receives the same treatment and privileges as all other prisoners held in what the military calls 'maximum custody' ". But House points out that Manning is the only maximum-custody detainee at Quantico, "so he is being treated like himself".

I asked House, at the end of our conversation, why he thought Manning might have committed the crime he is accused of. "If the chat logs between Manning and Lamo are true, you can see Manning's need for attention," he said. "But we also see him calling for worldwide debate and reform. When I meet him, I see the individual that wants reform. But I think at the core of it are the conditions in his life. He needed to find some self-worth in the world."