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Lawyer asks release of private facing charges in WikiLeaks case

An Army private suspected of passing hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents to the WikiLeaks website is jailed under harsh conditions and should be released, his lawyer said.

The United Nations' anti-torture chief, meanwhile, said Friday that he had asked the U.S. State Department to investigate Pfc. Bradley E. Manning's treatment in the Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va.

A spokesman at the Marine Corps base said he doesn't expect any changes in the maximum-security, injury-prevention conditions under which Manning has been held since he was brought there July 29 from a detention facility in Kuwait. Military officials say the rules, which include confinement 23 hours a day in a single-bed cell, keep Manning safe and secure.

David Coombs of Fall River, Mass., Manning's civilian attorney, said in a blog post that he sent a request to military officials Thursday seeking his client's release.

"This request is based upon the fact that the confinement conditions currently being endured by Pfc. Manning are more rigorous than necessary to guarantee his presence at trial and that the concerns raised by the government at the time of pretrial confinement are no longer applicable," Coombs wrote.

Coombs wrote that he made the request after the brig commander didn't respond to a formal complaint from Coombs and a grievance Manning filed Jan. 5.

Other confinement rules require guards to question Manning about his welfare every five minutes when he's awake, prevent him from exercising in his cell and bar him from keeping reading material overnight.

Military officials say Manning can exercise outside his cell for 20 minutes a day, has television access and is allowed visits from his lawyer, a friend, and medical and mental health professionals.

Juan E. Mendez, the U.N.'s anti-torture chief, said that in recent days he had sent a letter asking the State Department to investigate Manning's treatment. That request was based on complaints Mendez received last month from a Manning supporter.

Mendez, a visiting law professor at American University in Washington, said the letter's contents will remain confidential until he makes a report to the U.N.'s Human Rights Council, no earlier than March.

Manning, 23, of Crescent, Okla., was arrested May 29 in Iraq and charged in early July. He is awaiting a possible trial on military charges of illegally obtaining more than 150,000 secret State Department cables and giving more than 50 to an unauthorized person.

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