Manning has been punished illegally, says military judge
A US military judge ruled tonight that Pte Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of stealing secret documents and giving them to WikiLeaks, suffered illegal pre-trial punishment and should have 112 days shaved from whatever sentence he might eventually receive.
While the decision by Colonel Denise Lind at a military base in Maryland might offer Pte Manning, who is half British, some satisfaction, it fell very far short of the defence demand for the dismissal of all charges against him. For now, the trial itself is scheduled to begin on 6 March.
Charged with aiding the enemy and 21 other offences, Pte Manning, 25, faces life without the possibility of parole if found guilty. In that instance, the sentence-reduction ordered by court would barely have an impact.
The defence argued the charge-slate should be wiped. Pte Manning was confined to a windowless cell for 23 hours a day in Quantico, Virginia, and for part of the time denied clothing, purportedly because he was a suicide risk. He has since been moved to a facility in Leavenworth, Kansas, under less restrictive custody.
Col Lind said the defendant, who was arrested in 2010, had not been in solitary confinement as such but agreed conditions at Quantico were "excessive in relation to legitimate government interests".
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