Bradley Manning cleared to leave isolation cell

Pte Manning, in a handout photo Pte Bradley Manning served in Iraq

The US soldier at the centre of the Wikileaks scandal has been cleared to live alongside other inmates at Fort Leavenworth military prison in Kansas.

Pte First Class Bradley Manning had passed lengthy mental and physical assessments, prison officials said.

He was moved to the prison on 20 April, following criticism over his nine month detention at a marine jail in Virginia.

His supporters complained he was confined to a cell for 23 hours a day and forced regularly to undress.

Fort Leavenworth Commandant Lt Col Dawn Hilton said Pte Manning had been cleared to be held as a medium-security prisoner following lengthy assessments for all new inmates.

She said that Pte Manning would be treated like every other prisoner.

"We're firm but fair. We treat everybody - staff and inmates - with dignity and respect," she was quoted by the Kansas City Star as saying.

His new cell is 80 sq ft (7.4 sq m) and has a bed, toilet, sink, desk and stool. It is situated in an area housing around 10 other pre-trial inmates, with whom he will be allowed to interact.

He will be able to receive daily visitors, unlimited mail - although he will only be allowed 20 items in his cell at any one time - and three hours of recreation time a day, some of which will be spent outside and in the library.

Jeff Paterson, of the Bradley Manning Support Network, said he was "heartened" that conditions were improving for the soldier.

There had been growing international concern at the treatment of Pte Manning during his detention in Quantico, Virginia.

His lawyers said he had been subjected to 24-hour surveillance and was forced to relinquish his clothing before bedding down for the night, then forced to stand naked at roll call.

Charges

UN special rapporteur on torture Juan Mendez had accused US officials of blocking his requests for unmonitored visits to Pte Manning, in part aimed at determining whether he had been mistreated.

Officials have repeatedly denied Pte Manning has been mistreated, although last month a top US state department official, spokesman PJ Crowley, resigned after saying the military's treatment of the Wikileaks suspect was "ridiculous and counterproductive".

Defence department general counsel Jeh Johnson, when announcing Pte Manning's transfer from Quantico to Fort Leavenworth, insisted it should not be interpreted as criticism of the soldier's treatment in Virginia.

He said Fort Leavenworth - which was opened in January - was better equipped to handle long-term pre-trial stays, with better mental health support, exercise facilities and more opportunities for interaction with other detainees.

Pte Manning, an intelligence analyst who joined the US Army in 2007, is suspected of leaking 720,000 diplomatic and military documents, including a database of military records from the Iraq war, Afghan war records, classified diplomatic cables and other materials.

In the past year, Wikileaks has published troves of documents it titled the Iraq War Logs and the Afghan War Diary, and reams of secret US state department cables spanning five decades.

Pte Manning has been charged with using unauthorised software on government computers to download classified information and to make intelligence available to "the enemy", and other counts related to leaking intelligence and theft of public records.

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