The young American soldier who has been charged with leaking confidential cables to the WikiLeaks website is being forced to sleep naked in his cell and stand outside each morning to be handed back his clothes because he made a single sarcastic quip, his lawyer has claimed.
Fresh outrage at the conditions faced by Bradley Manning, a former research analyst in the Army, at the Quantico Marine Corps Base in Virginia erupted last week.
"Is this Quantico or Abu Ghraib?" Democrat congressman Dennis Kucinich, demanded. At the time, the Army would say only that the order was "non-punitive".
In a blog post yesterday, the soldier's lawyer, David Coombs, said he had got to the bottom of the nocturnal nudity requirement: his client was being punished because of a response to a suggestion from his warders they he was being considered a risk of "self-harm", if not actual suicide.
Pte Manning "sarcastically stated that if he wanted to harm himself, he could conceivably do so with the elastic waistband of his underwear or with his flip-flops", Mr Coombs wrote. That triggered the decree for no clothes at night. But since his client is not on suicide watch, making him sleep naked is "punitive in nature", Mr Coombs concluded.
Amnesty International and other groups have also complained.