IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

WikiLeaks suspect to be housed with other inmates

The commander of a Kansas military prison says Army Pfc. Bradley Manning has passed his initial evaluations and will be housed with other medium-security pre-trial inmates.
Image: Army Specialist Bradley Manning faces 22 new charges
Pfc. Bradley Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents that appeared on the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs. EPA file
/ Source: NBC News and news services

WikiLeaks suspect Army Pfc. Bradley Manning has passed the lengthy the physical and psychiatric evaluation given to new inmates at the Kansas military prison where he was recently moved and will begin living with other medium-security inmates who are also awaiting trial, the prison commander said Thursday.

During a media tour of Fort Leavenworth prison, Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, without referring to Manning specifically, said inmates who were considered a danger to themselves or others would not be placed with the general prison population.

The new detention conditions would represent a marked change for Manning, who was transferred to Fort Leavenworth last week from the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., where he'd been held since his arrest last year. There, Manning was locked alone in his cell for 23 hours a day and had to surrender his clothes at night in favor of a military-issued, suicide-prevention smock.

Manning's attorney and supporters called the conditions inhumane and needlessly harsh, and Amnesty International said Manning's treatment may violate his human rights.

The Marines claimed the extraordinary steps were taken to prevent Manning from harming himself, but military officials told NBC News that stripping him of his clothing was done for disciplinary reasons, which would be in violation of military regulations.

The Army's Military District of Washington, which has legal authority over Manning, had recommended that Manning be kept separate from other prisoners for security reasons, but Army officials at Leavenworth made the decision to house him with other prisoners.

At Fort Leavenworth's prison, Manning will be housed with about 10 other pre-trial inmates. He will have his own cell, be issued standard prison clothing and have access to a communal area except for the "lights out" period overnight.

Manning is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks, including Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, confidential State Department cables and a classified military video of a 2007 Apache helicopter attack in Iraq that killed a Reuters news photographer and his driver.

His transfer to Leavenworth came a bit more than a week after a U.N. torture investigator, Juan Mendez, complained that he was denied a request to make an unmonitored visit to Manning. Pentagon officials said he could meet with Manning, but it is customary to give only the detainee's lawyer confidential visits.

Mendez said a monitored conversation would be counter to the practice of his U.N. mandate.

A few days later, a committee of Germany's parliament protested about Manning's treatment to the White House.

The Army gave the media an unusual glimpse of life inside a military prison to combat the allegations that Manning was being mistreated.

Eugene R. Fidell, who teaches law at Yale and heads the National Institute of Military Justice in Washington, said he thinks the media tour is a positive step.

"Frankly, the military confinement and correction system has been very little studied," Fidell said. "I've long thought it's overdue for more scrutiny. Anything that sheds light will help allay concerns among the public and let people move onto more substantial matters."

He said he's concerned, though, about the amount of time the military has taken to try Manning.

NBC's Jim Miklaszewski and the Associated Press contributed to this report.