The Army private suspected of giving classified data to WikiLeaks is being moved to a base in the Midwest state of Kansas in the wake of international criticism about his treatment during his detention at a Marine Corps base near Washington.
Bradley Manning’s detention has been the focus of repeated protests from human rights groups and international leaders.
His move to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, which was announced on Wednesday at the Pentagon, could put him in a new facility that houses inmates with short prison terms or those awaiting trial.
“Given the length of time he’s been in pretrial confinement at Quantico … and given what the likely period of pretrial confinement in the future … we reached the judgment this would be the right facility for him,” Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon’s general counsel, told reporters in a hastily announced briefing.
Officials declined to say when the transfer would take place but suggested it would be soon.
Manning faces nearly two dozen charges, including aiding the enemy, a crime that can bring the death penalty or life in prison.
Manning’s move to a new detention center comes about a week after a UN torture investigator complained that he was denied being able 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. But Juan Mendez said that a monitored conversation would be counter to the practice of his UN mandate.
Two days later, a committee of Germany’s parliament protested about Manning’s treatment to the White House. And Amnesty International has said Manning’s treatment may violate his human rights.
Manning is being held in maximum security in a single-occupancy cell at the Marine base, and he is allowed to wear only a suicide-proof smock to bed each night.
President Barack Obama and senior military officials have repeatedly contended that Manning is being held under appropriate conditions given the seriousness of the charges against him.
A former intelligence analyst, 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.
Army prosecutors, however, have told Manning’s lawyers that they will not recommend the death penalty.
There are currently three detention facilities at Fort Leavenworth, including the military’s largest maximum security prison.
The new 464-bed facility, which opened last September, is a regional prison that combined the operations of several military prisons around the country.