Pvt. Bradley Manning, the lone soldier who stands accused of stealing millions of pages of secret US government documents and handing them over to secrets outlet WikiLeaks, wants his supporters to know that they’ve meant a lot to him.
“I greatly appreciate everyone’s support and well wishes during this time,” he said in a Christmas Eve statement released by his lawyer.
“I’m also thankful for everything that has been done to aid in my defense,” Manning continued. “I ask that everyone takes the time to remember those who are separated from their loved ones at this time due to deployment and important missions.
“Specifically, I am thinking of those that I deployed with and have not seen for the last seven months, and of the staff here at the Quantico Confinement Facility who will be spending their Christmas without their family.”
In a recent conversation with Firedoglake’s David House, Manning claimed that military officials have kept him in solitary confinement for the last seven months. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald noted that the conditions in which Manning is held “constitute cruel and inhumane treatment and, by the standards of many nations, even torture.”
The next day, the Quantico information office disputed Greenwald’s allegations. “A maximum custody detainee is able to receive the same privileges that a detainee classified as general population may receive,” they said. “A maximum custody detainee also receives daily television, hygiene call, reading and outside physical activity without restraint.”
Manning also said he had not been outdoors in four weeks and was only allowed to walk indoors for one hour a day.
“When told of the Pentagon’s statement that he did indeed receive exercise, Manning’s reply was that he is able to exercise insofar as walking in chains is a form of exercise,” House wrote.
Firedoglake was also featuring an online petition asking supporters to demand an improvement to the conditions of Manning’s detention.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has suggested that US authorities want Manning to take a plea deal in exchange for claiming Assange was involved in the initial leak of sensitive information.
Assange claimed he had never even heard the soldier’s name until after he was arrested, and that WikiLeaks, by its very nature as a technology platform, protects the anonymity of its sources.
With prior reporting by Eric W. Dolan.