US officials have blocked a UN investigator’s requests for unmonitored visits to Private Bradley Manning, who is accused of leaking secret military and diplomatic cables to whistleblowing website Wikileaks.
UN investigator Juan Mendez said he was “disappointed and frustrated by the prevarication” he met from US officials.
Since May 2010 the 23-year-old Pte Manning has been detained at the Quantico marine base in Virginia, where he has faced mistreatment, his lawyers said.
In a statement Mr Mendez, the UN special rapporteur on torture said the US government “has not been receptive to a confidential meeting with Mr Manning”.
He also suggested that US authorities will only allow him to visit Pte Manning at the marine base if officials are present.
But Mr Mendez refused, arguing that a monitored conversation would be counter to his UN mandate and would prevent him from verifying whether the detainee has been ill-treated.
According to his supporters, Pte Manning has been held under harsh conditions, confined to a spartan cell for 23 hours a day without personal possessions, and forced regularly to undress.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan explained that confidential meetings with anyone confined at Quantico were only allowed to lawyers.
Saying that there had been “considerable misinformation” about Pte Manning’s confinement, Col Lapan said that the accused had been forced to sleep naked or awakened repeatedly for a brief period about a month ago.
Pte Manning is currently awaiting trial. He has been charged with 34 counts, including illegally obtaining 720,000 secret US documents while serving as a US army intelligence analyst in Iraq.
About a month ago, US state department spokesman PJ Crowley has resigned after describing Pte Manning’s treatment as “stupid”.