The Foreign Secretary William Hague was today directly questioned for the first time on the UK Government’s position on the case of Bradley Manning. Footage of today’s meeting of the House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee may be viewed here. Ann Clwyd’s question appears right at the end of the meeting, at 16:46:43 and a transcript of her exchange with the Foreign Secretary, William Hague, follows below.
Clwyd: I want to raise with you the question of Bradley Manning, the US marine, who at present is in a military prison – untried and unconvicted – and the treatment that has been given him. He has been kept in solitary confinement over the past ten months, he is denied access to the normal things that one has every day. He is made to stand naked outside his cell every morning and so on and so forth. And as you know, Hilary Clinton’s press spokesman has been forced to resign over the comments that he made over the treatment of Bradley Manning, calling it “counterproductive and stupid.”
Bradley Manning’s mother in Welsh, from Pembrokeshire. She has visited him recently and everyone is very concerned about his treatment. I wonder if you can raise it, or have raised it, because there is a lot of public interest in the treatment of Bradley Manning.
Hague: Well, on this particular case, Mr Manning’s lawyer apparently wrote on the 2nd February on his blog that “Mr. Manning does not hold a UK passport, nor does he consider himself a UK citizen.” Beyond that we can’t comment on an individual’s nationality without their consent. And in that situation, of course, our standing on this matter is limited. He is not asking for our help, nor considering himself British.
In general, conditions in US prisons do meet international standards. Solitary confinement is a procedure used in many countries. It is deemed to offer protection both to the inmate and those around them. It is for his legal representative to challenge his treatment, if they judge that his treatment fails to meet international standards.
The fact that it has been raised in this committee, of course, can be brought to the attention of the United States. So it can be, and will be. But our position, from a legal and a consular point of view is as I’ve just been describing.
Clwyd: Can I just say that his legal representative published an 11-page document a few days ago, which was a statement from Manning but also a complaint from his lawyer about his treatment. So as we are receiving letters from constituents on this particular subject, I will be coming back to you on this subject.
Hague: Well, do come back to me and of course I will write you a letter so you can correspond with your constituents.
The exchange is now viewable on youtube (big thanks to Alex Weir)
Ann Clwyd MP again raised the issue of Bradley Manning at Business Questions in the House of Commons this morning (17th March), formally requesting that a debate be held on the treatment Bradley is receiving in pre-trial detention. Ann noted that the case bore some similarities to the treatment “meted out” to Guantanamo Bay inmates and indicated that there was considerable public concern about the issue.
Sir George Young, Leader of the House of Commons, responded that he understood the concerns expressed by Ann Clwyd – concerns that are “widely shared.” He then indicated that although he “could not promise a debate in Government time”, the case was a “suitable subject for debate” in the Chamber.
Footage of Business Questions is now available on BBC iplayer (viewable from within the UK only) and Ann Clwyd’s question appears at 15:50. Here’s the transcript:
Clwyd: Thank you Mr. Speaker. Can we have a debate on the treatment of Bradley Manning, the young US soldier who is held in solitary confinement in the United States, accused of passing on information to Wikileaks? His mother is Welsh. He attended school in Wales for a time. There is considerable interest in his case, which I would say is similar to that meted out to people at Guantanamo Bay.
Young: I understand the concern which the Honourable Lady expresses, which I think is widely shared. I can’t promise a debate in Government time, but it does sound an appropriate subject for debate in Westminster Hall in the next few weeks.
Westminster Hall is a secondary space for Parliamentary debate in the UK and discussions that take place there are not subject to a vote. However, it does seem as if the case of Bradley Manning will be now be formally allocated time for debate in the Parliamentary schedule, which is positive indeed.
Ann Clwyd’s question to Sir George Young may now be viewed in Hansard, the official edited verbatim report of proceedings in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.