The UN’s special rapporteur for on torture will investigate the treatment of Bradley Manning, the former intelligence analyst accused of leaking classified material and currently held in solitary confinement under the custody of the US Marines. Manning faces a court martial but no criminal charges, and has yet been held in solitary for over seven months.

The office of Manfred Nowak, special rapporteur on torture based in Geneva, received the complaint from a Manning supporter; his office confirmed that it was being looked into. Manning’s supporters say that he is in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day; this could be construed as a form of torture. This month visitors reported that his mental and physical health was deteriorating.

The Pentagon denies the former intelligence analyst is mistreated, saying he is treated the same as other prisoners at Quantico, Virginia, is able to exercise, and has access to newspapers and visitors.

Reporters like Glenn Greenwald have described Manning’s treatment in solitary, and now Manning’s lawyer and David House have confirmed the accounts. The restrictions include being prevented from exercising in his cell, deprived of newspapers or international news accounts, kept from outdoor exercise yards in his one hour out of solitary, and deprived of adequate bedding for sleep. It seems fairly clear that the conditions of Manning’s confinement amount to at least some form of torture.

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, spoke out about Manning’s confinement in an interview with Cenk Uygur on MSNBC yesterday, calling Manning a political prisoner in the United States.

David Dayen

David Dayen