The Army private suspected of giving classified data to WikiLeaks is being moved to a state-of-the-art facility at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where Pentagon officials said more extensive mental, emotional and physical health care will be available.
Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer, said the move does not suggest that Army Pfc. Bradley Manning's treatment at the Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., was inappropriate.
But the transfer, which Johnson described as "imminent," comes in the wake of international criticism about Manning's treatment during his detention at the Marine Corps base at Quantico. And the conditions of Manning's detention have been the focus of repeated protests from human rights groups and lawmakers.
Johnson, however, said, "The fact that we have made a decision to transfer this particular pretrial confine should not be interpreted as a criticism of the place he was before."
Speaking to reporters Tuesday during a hastily arranged briefing, Johnson and Army Undersecretary Joseph Westphal acknowledged that the brig at Quantico was not designed to hold pretrial detainees for more than a few months.
The new facility, they said, will be more open, have more space, and Manning will have a greater opportunity to eat and interact with other prisoners there.
Johnson said that Manning, who has been at Quantico for more than eight months, can be moved now because his interview in the Washington region to determine his competency to stand trial has been completed. That interview lasted one day and was done April 9.
Manning faces nearly two dozen charges, including aiding the enemy, a crime that can bring the death penalty or life in prison.