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WikiLeaks: Manning forced to strip naked in jail

Bradley Manning, the soldier accused of leaking secret US government files to whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, was stripped and left naked in his cell for seven hours earlier this week, according to his lawyer.

Manning's lawyer David Coombs said the 23-year-old's clothing was taken from him on Wednesday.

According to the lawyer, the clothes were returned to him the next day, after Manning had been forced to stand naked outside his cell during an inspection.

"Private Manning has been told that the same thing will happen to him again tonight (Thursday)," Coombs said yesterday. "No other detainee at the brig is forced to endure this type of isolation and humiliation."

"This type of degrading treatment is inexcusable and without justification,' Coombs added. "It is an embarrassment to our military justice system and should not be tolerated."

A spokesman for the US Marine brig at Quantico, Virgina, where Manning is being held, confirmed to the New York Times that the private's clothing had been taken from him.

First Lieutenant Brian Villiard described the action as "not punitive", and in accordance with brig rules.

"It would be inappropriate for me to explain it. I can confirm that it did happen, but I can't explain it to you without violating the detainee's privacy," he added.

Criticism has been levelled at US authorities over the conditions of Manning's detention since he was arrested last May, suspected of supplying WikiLeaks with material including the 'Collateral Murder' footage showing the killing by a US helicopter gunship of a number of civilians including two Reuters journalists.

Manning is believed to be confined to his cell for 23 hours a day, with severe restrictions on human contact and denied pillows or a bedsheet - conditions that have caused some critics to label his treatment "torture".