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Frontline Exclusive: Bradley Manning’s Father Discusses Son’s Incarceration

Pvt. Bradley Manning, the 23-year-old Army intelligence analyst accused of stealing thousands of classified government documents and providing them to WikiLeaks, is in custody at the U.S. Marine brig in Quantico, Va., where he is in solitary confinement and under a “prevention of injury” watch. Last week, there was a change in his imprisonment: he was stripped of his clothing at night.

His attorney, David Coombs, has reported* that the brig’s action followed his client’s complaint that the so-called “prevention of injury” restrictions on him were absurd. Manning said if he wanted to harm himself, he could do so with the elastic waistband of his underwear.

In an exclusive Frontline interview this week with correspondent Martin Smith, Manning’s father, Brian Manning, spoke for the first time about his son’s incarceration.

See more of Brian Manning’s interview on Thursday’s NewsHour, and in a profile of his son in a special Frontline broadcast on March 29, ahead of a documentary on Wikileaks coming in May.

Asked by The NewsHour for comment on Bradley Manning’s incarceration, the Department of Defense released this statement Thursday afternoon:

PFC Bradley Manning is being held in pre-trial confinement at the Marine Corps base Quantico. He is accused of, and charged with, very serious crimes. He is innocent until proven guilty, but is in pre-trial confinement for a host of reasons typical in the military justice system, including the very serious nature of the offenses he is alleged to have committed.

The circumstances of PFC Manning’s pretrial confinement are regularly reviewed, and complies in all respects with U.S. law and Department of Defense regulations.
The commander of the tri-service confinement facility at Quantico is responsible for ensuring the safety and security of everyone in the facility, including the pre-trial detainees themselves.

PFC Manning is housed in one-man cell at Quantico, like all others in maximum or medium security at the facility. He has rights and privileges to food, mental health counseling, medical care, recreation, television, visitors, outside mail, and regular communications with his attorney.

In recent days, as the result of concerns for PFC Manning’s personal safety, his undergarments were taken from him during sleeping hours. PFC Manning at all times had a bed and a blanket to cover himself. He was not made to stand naked for morning count but, but on one day, he chose to do so. There were no female personnel present at the time. PFC Manning has since been issued a garment to sleep in at night. He is clothed in a standard jumpsuit during the day.

The staff at the Quantico brig are professionals who take their responsibilities very seriously. None of the conditions under which PFC Manning is held are punitive in nature. All are based on his particular circumstances as a maximum security pre-trial detainee.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this post suggested Coombs spoke to reporters, but the information was from one of his blog posts.

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