How we know Bradley Manning is a UK citizen – FOR SURE

This is an important blog post. Please distribute it widely.

My legal information is sourced from the UK Border Agency, specifically their caseworking instructions for all issues arising under The British Nationality Act of 1981. This piece of legislation has formed the basis of British nationality law since coming into force on 1 January 1983 and the caseworking instructions derived from it are the guidelines Border Agency employees refer to on a day-to-day basis when deciding who is entitled to British citizenship. This is an absolutely authoritative source.

Bradley Manning is a UK citizen by virtue of his mother’s nationality. He holds both US and UK citizenship.

Bradley Manning was born in the United States on 17 December 1987, the son of Brian and Susan Manning. As the son of an American father, born on US soil, Bradley Manning has held US citizenship since birth.

Bradley’s parents met in Wales and Susan Manning has been described as ‘Welsh’ or hailing from Wales repeatedly in the mainstream media, including outlets with self-proclaimed fact-checking operations.

Susan Manning is, beyond any reasonable doubt, a UK citizen.  As far as we know she was born in the UK and is therefore not a “UK citizen by descent”. In law she is a UK citizen “otherwise than by descent”.

I would now like to refer you to Chapter 20 of the caseworking instructions for the Nationality Act of 1981. This is, remember, the working reference guide that British civil servants use every day to determine who qualifies for UK citizenship. Chapter 20 explains what rules govern the transmission of UK citizenship to children born abroad and is the crucial reference that resolves the issue of Bradley Manning’s citizenship status. We will take this step-by-step to avoid any possible confusion.

20.1.1 Every person who is a British citizen is so either “by descent” or “otherwise
than by descent”.

20.1.2 The distinction between the two affects a British citizen’s ability to transmit
that citizenship to children born abroad. It does not affect any of the other
rights or duties that go with British citizenship.

20.1.3 British citizens by descent cannot transmit their citizenship to children born
abroad except in the circumstances described in Chapter 4. British citizens
otherwise than by descent automatically transmit their citizenship to children
born abroad.

20.1.4 As a general principle, people are British citizens otherwise than by descent
if they are British citizens:
by birth, adoption, registration or naturalisation in the United Kingdom
or the Falkland Islands before 21 May 2002; or…

My working assumption is that Susan Manning was born in the United Kingdom. Hence she is a British citizen otherwise than by descent (20.1.4) and “British citizens otherwise than by descent automatically transmit their citizenship to children born abroad.” (20.1.3)

20.1.5 People who are British citizens by birth or other means elsewhere are British
citizens by descent.

A child born to a British citizen outside the UK or its overseas territories is a British citizen by descent. Bradley Manning is therefore a British citizen by descent. (20.1.5)

The issue of Bradley Manning’s dual citizenship has been the subject of some controversy and much disinformation but the situation is in fact straightforward: unless Bradley’s mother was born outside the UK, her son has also been a UK citizen automatically since birth. We will confirm that Susan Manning was born in this country as quickly as possible.  At that point, I will seek to update the Bradley Manning wikipedia article, backed up with the proper evidence, and we will be able to put this issue to bed once and for all.

Big thanks to @danhind who was indispensable in putting this together.


It has been brought to my attention that, under Section 3(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981, even the children of those who are British citizens “by descent” may be able to claim citizenship. The relevant clauses are published on the UK Border Agency website:

A child will have an entitlement to be registered under section 3(2) of the British Nationality Act 1981 if:
they were born outside the United Kingdom; or
they were born after 21 May 2002 outside any of the British overseas territories; and
they were born to parents, one or both of whom are British citizens by descent; and
the parent who is British by descent was born to a parent (the child’s grandparent) who was a British citizen otherwise than by descent (or would have been but for their death); and
the parent who is British by descent lived in the United Kingdom at any time before the child’s birth for a continuous period of three years*; and
during the period they were living in the United Kingdom the parent was not absent for more than 270 days; and
the application is made before the child’s 18th birthday.


The case is very nearly closed.

Update II

It has been confirmed to me that Susan Manning was born in the United Kingdom. Bradley Manning is therefore a citizen “by descent.” Bradley Manning has been a UK citizen since the moment of his birth and remains a UK citizen today. The UK Government now has some very serious questions to answer.

Update III

On 2 February 2011, the Guardian printed the following:

“Manning is a UK citizen by descent from his Welsh mother, Susan. Government databases on births, deaths and marriages show she was born Susan Fox in Haverfordwest in 1953.”

Update IV

On 4th April 2011, Foreign Office Minister Henry Bellingham confirmed on behalf of the UK Government that Bradley Manning is a UK citizen by descent under precisely the reasoning supplied above.

NEXT STOP: Why this matters


54 responses to “How we know Bradley Manning is a UK citizen – FOR SURE

  1. Pingback: Bradley Manning is a UK Citizen « UK Friends of Bradley Manning

  2. Pingback: Inequality In America Is Worse Than In Egypt – ICH: News You Won’t Find on CNN « Anti Oligarch

  3. Apparently the U.S. does not recogize dual citizenship; I am an American who has also received Canadian citizenship. On crossing the border into the States I’ve been told by border guards that there is no such thing, and that I have to declare myself one way or the other.

    • I’m sure UK law will require action on torture against a UK citizen …

      As to the US does not recognize dual citizenship … hardly, though there has been a pretense around this for years.

      See …
      US State Department Services Dual Nationality

      Dual Citizenship FAQ: Dual Nationality and United States Law

      Voting in a foreign election, serving in a foreign army, or swearing allegiance to a foreign government used to be automatic grounds for losing U.S. citizenship. But a 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1967 made it all but impossible for someone to lose U.S. citizenship unless he or she wants to give it up.

      The case involved a naturalized American citizen originally from Poland, who moved to Israel in 1950. Beys Afroyim tried to get his U.S. passport renewed in 1960, but the State Department turned him down. Afroyim had voted in Israeli elections, which meant he had automatically lost his U.S. citizenship, the department said.

      The Supreme Court said the 14th Amendment effectively elevated citizenship to a constitutional right and ruled that it can be lost only if renounced.

    • As Chris rightly says, the key thing here is that the UK Government will be obliged to step in. The US will certainly have to recognise official representations from friendly nations.

      • Is there no chance England might just refuse to see Manning as a British Citizen even with this? Being forced to step in or not it would in a way tarnish Political Relationships between the two countries. UK might not be interested in doing so over someone they might consider… “irrelevant.” Sure, he has an English-Born Mother, yet he’s never done anything for England. No Army Service for example, nothing big.

        All I’m saying is even being forced to, Governments tend to sometimes ignore their own rules. Take Palin and her public cry to have Assange executed illegally for example. No prosecution, nothing. You just need to pull the right strings or be high enough up, and Manning’s case would go very far up.

        The Judge that issued the warrant for the Twitter Tweets I believe did it because of her personal views on the matter. The first Judge if I’m correct declined the warrant, the second Judge picked up the request on her own and approved it. If this matter goes before another such Judge (or how is this done? Not quite sure if it would go into court, assuming Manning ever even gets to one….) the Judge could simply be leaned by his own points of view on the matter and decide with those.

        On the other hand, UK =/= USA (no offense intended to anyone) so they might just step in after all.

      • The abuses in this case have been extreme, but there are still some absolutes. Now that we know he is a citizen, it is impossible politically for the UK Government to abandon Bradley Manning. But British citizens must lobby on his behalf – and lobby HARD. This means – at the very least – writing to your MP.

    • The US DOES in fact if not in practice, acknowledge dual citizenship.

  4. I cannot see that helps Manning. Since Blair’s 2003 Extradition Act, all British citizens are subject to US criminal law as well as their own.

    • The Extradition Act, though unbalanced, is not relevant to Manning’s case. This seems to be a common misconception so I’ll address this directly in a future blog post.


  5. Let´s do all we can do to get out M.B. from ISOLATION CELL

  6. I do hope this issue gets raised in the house of commons, i for one am already fed up with what the conservative party is doing to our country, and i can only hope something good is done for once.

    If it is “by law” that Manning is entitled to UK citizenship this investigation should be taken up by the EU at the very least…

    We all know how “tough” the USG claims to be when it comes to human rights in the middle-east, maybe with an investigation into the torture of a UK/US citizen they will the do the right thing and free him once and for all.

    • I am SURE this issue will be raised in the House of Commons eventually. But we have to get it in the UK press first. That means people like us have to talk about it, blog about it and tell our friends about it until the issue is too large to ignore. Let’s get to it!

  7. Pingback: Bradley Manning probablemente es ciudadano británico

  8. Thank you for caring about this kid!

  9. So find an ethical British politician – or better still use the British press to force their hand.

    • This is all on the cards. Of course what would really help is if you also lobbied ethical politicians and national/local press. Having loads of motivated, autonomous individuals doing their thing and sharing their successes is what will really help Bradley – honestly.

  10. “As far as we know she was born in the UK and is therefore not a “UK citizen by descent”. In law she is a UK citizen “otherwise than by descent”.”

    This needs to be verified and right off, otherwise a lot of effort may be misdirected – going down a legally incorrect alley – which could be used by reluctant government bureaucrats as a stalling measure.

    I did not read here whether this aspect – UK citizenship – is being used/explored by Bradley’s civilian lawyers. What has been their response to this route? But even if his legal team is not using this or interested, others who are may be helpful to this young man by pursuing this route of trying to influence UK MPs to step in regarding a UK citizen held by US government.

  11. I still don’t see how this could help Manning. He is a United States citizen serving in the United States army, and broke the law.

    To the best of out knowledge he is at most eligible for UK citizenship. A title which he has not claimed. Even if he was a UK citizen, I don’t see how this could circumvent US law, especially while he was an enlisted officer for the US army.

    • Bradley Manning has been a UK citizen since the moment of his birth and remains one today. The conditions of his pre-trial detention in Quantico constitute a dire humanitarian emergency – I should remind you that the United States has already admitted wrongdoing in this regard. The UK Government has an absolute moral and legal duty to intervene.

  12. Please disregard my former comment. I have just discovered the “Master nationality rule”, which raises more serious concerns.

    • I don’t think I received an earlier comment from you. I suspect your objection has little force as Bradley Manning is clearly not a terrorist.

      Edit: This was a bit hasty on my part, you had two points and ‘master nationality’ was the other one. As discussed, the UK reserves the right to override this in humanitarian emergencies.

      • I forgot to mention an important fact in my original post. As part of the enlisting/swearing in process for any branch of the US Military you are required to renounce all other citizenship’s & only hold the US during your enlistment period. After exiting their branch of service the individual simply files a reinstatement form with the appropriate nations consul and after a short waiting period all prior citizenship’s are then reinstated.

      • Thanks for your post – we are aware of this as an issue.

  13. Pingback: Dual citizenship for Manning? Not according to Master Nationality Rule | Knowledge Empire

  14. No, the response has nothing to do with Manning’s potential status as a terrorist. It involves the fact that under international law, the Master Nationality Rule, “when a dual citizen is in the country of one of his two nationalities, that country has the right to treat that person as if he or she were solely a citizen or national of that country.”

    Hence even if Manning is officially a UK citizen and has dual citizenship, this will not do his much good, sadly.

    • The FCO reserves its right to make an exception to this where there is a “special humanitarian reason to do so.” Given that Amnesty and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture are making official inquiries and there has been an admission of wrongdoing, I would say this case qualifies:


      • Yes, the UK may legally offer support, and may legally refuse it. The choice is decided on a case-by-case basis when the law underdetermines the outcome. I’m not feeling all that hopeful about the UK’s loyalties to Bradley Manning these days, however.

        There’s the other issue of whether BM may be required to apply for a passport, as the Guantanamo inmate had to do. I understand Manning isn’t a terrorist, but neither was the other individual. BM’s status as a non-civilian may further complicate things.

        Finally, note that when I underwent a similar process, in obtaining dual citizenship from a EU nation, my rights as a EU citizen were not granted until I provided supporting proof and finally obtained the passport and (a tedious 12-month process, despite the obviousness of my status as a EU citizen by birth of *both* my parents).

        So BM will probably have to apply to be recognized legally, and then the issue of whether UK will choose to exercise any power will become relevant. Again, I hope I’m wrong, of course, but it doesn’t look promising.

      • Hello there. I think in a way we’re in general agreement here. The UK has discretion over whether to intervene and that discretion may be determined by political factors. In Bradley’s case I am absolutely convinced that the latent support for him is massive in this country. Effective lobbying could make a real difference and force the UK Government into making a stand. That is my position – and I don’t mind you calling me an optimist if it makes you feel better.

    • How often has the UK exercised this power to intervene?

  15. Pingback: Top Posts —

  16. Pingback: Rights groups: Manning is a UK citizen and deserves protection | Dark Politricks

  17. Here’s the summary. I linked to you, since you did such a great job here. Very thorough. Let’s stay in touch.

    • Thanks very much! I’ve got to give you a credit for the consular access info pdf above too. Speak soon, Naomi

    • Thanks so much for this – I have no idea how to find my way around WL Central so we may not have made it on there otherwise. I think the post is quite authoritative, isn’t it? Hurray for us!

  18. Pingback: Is the UK legally required to act on behalf of Bradley Manning? | Knowledge Empire

  19. Pingback: Bradley Manning’s dual citizenship and the law « @ggregator

  20. Pingback: » Blog Archive » Bradley Manning ‘is British’ – campaigners urge to act

  21. Being a UK citizen also makes him a European Community citizen too. In that event, you might hope the European Commission might act to defend his rights too.

    Assuming Manning has dual citizenship, presumably he could also elect to abandon dual nationality in favour of one or the other.

  22. Pingback: Creative-i : Bradley Manning Newslinks for 4 February, 2011

  23. Pingback: How the British Government is Failing Bradley Manning « UK Friends of Bradley Manning

  24. Pingback: Bradley Manning is British! « Social Justice Concerns

  25. Pingback: U.K. Gov. Discuss Treatment of Bradley Manning « LeakSource

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