A long list of eminent US legal scholars have signed a protest letter condemning the treatment of WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning as "illegal and immoral".
Published in the New York Review of Books, the protest letter deplores the treatment of Manning, charged with leaking US government documents, as a violation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment alongside the Fifth Amendment's guarantee against punishment without trial.
The letter was written by Yale law professor Bruce Ackerman and Harvard professor Yochai Benkler.
They write that if Manning is guilty of a crime than he should be tried, convicted and punished in accordance with the law but that such treatment must be consistent with the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
Included on the list of almost 300 legal academics is Laurence Tribe, the Harvard professor who taught constitutional law to US president Barack Obama. Considered one of the America's key thinkers on constitutional law, he has also served as a legal advisor in the Obama administration's Justice Department and was a key Obama backer in his 2008 presidential campaign.
Manning has been held in a military prison since July 2010. His prison conditions have been criticised by human rights activists, especially the fact he is held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day and checked every five minutes under the guise of "preventing self-harm"
Tribe told The Guardian such treatment is "cruel and unusual punishment of a sort that cannot be constitutionally inflicted even upon someone convicted of terrible offences, not to mention someone merely accused of such offences".
Read the letter, and see the full list of legal academics here
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