US blocked UN access to Manning

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The top United Nations investigator on torture has been blocked by the US government from having an unmonitored meeting with the detained soldier Bradley Manning, who is awaiting trial on charges of leaking information to WikiLeaks while he was serving in Iraq.

Juan Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture, said he had been trying to organise a visit to check on Private Manning's condition since December. Pte Manning, 23, is accused of leaking secret documents, including hundreds of State Department cables, that later appeared on WikiLeaks.

The soldier has been held at the Quantico Marine base in Virginia since last May. His lawyers say he is being mistreated and kept in his cell for 23 hours a day and made to sleep naked.

"Unfortunately, the US government has not been receptive to a confidential meeting with Mr Manning," Mr Mendez said in a statement issued from his Geneva office. He added that he was "deeply disappointed and frustrated by the prevarication" he had met from both State and Defence Department officials who made clear they would only allow him to talk to the soldier with a prison official present.

A Pentagon spokesman said only lawyers were allowed one-on-one unmonitored meetings with anyone confined at the Quantico base.