The brutal treatment of the young soldier, who has not been convicted of any offence, has been described by Amnesty International as “unnecessarily severe”, “inhumane” and “repressive”. It is widely believed US authorities are treating him harshly to obtain a plea bargain that implicates WikiLeaks’ editor-in-chief Julian Assange as a co-conspirator. But there is a twist to this tale. Bradley Manning is a dual UK-US citizen under the right afforded to him by jus sanguinis. His mother is Welsh and his father American; he was born in Oklahoma though sat his GCSEs at a Welsh secondary school. He should therefore be entitled to consular assistance.
As according to a guide issued by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) called “Support for British Nationals”, the UK would not normally offer consular support to dual citizens unless the citizen is a minor, facing a capital sentence, or if “having looked at the circumstances of the case, we [the FCO] consider that there is a special humanitarian reason to do so.”
Manning is not a minor, and nor is he facing a capital sentence (though some prominent US politicians have called for a treason charge, which could result in the death penalty) but his situation is certainly of serious humanitarian concern. Given the severity of Amnesty International’s condemnation of Manning’s treatment, and the additional involvement of the UN’s Special Rapporteur on Torture, it seems clear that Manning has a “special humanitarian” case. A spokesperson for the FCO said that they could not comment on individual cases, however confirmed that “in instances of mistreatment, we would potentially look to intervene.”
The piece goes on to observe that
though the UK may wish to keep a distance from Bradley Manning for political reasons, UK authorities – whether they like it or not – were implicated in the investigation from the beginning. In July last year, shortly after Manning was charged, American ‘officials’ reported to be F.B.I agents made an unannounced visit to the Welsh home of Bradley Manning’s mother, Susan. Accompanied by a Detective Sergeant from Dyfed-Powys police force, they are believed to have searched Bradley’s old bedroom. Earlier this week Dyfed-Powys police would not confirm or deny this – saying only that they “facilitated a request from an American agency to accompany them as they conducted their investigation last year.”
It appears then that while UK authorities have been happy to comply with the Americans on UK soil as they seek evidence to prosecute Manning, they remain reluctant to get involved in an issue that has the potential to put serious strain on the notorious “special relationship.”