The British government is under pressure to take up the case of Bradley Manning, the soldier being held in a maximum security military prison in Virginia on suspicion of having passed a massive trove of US state secrets to WikiLeaks, on the grounds that he is a UK citizen.
Amnesty International has reached out to the British government, urging them to intervene on Manning’s behalf and ensure his detention conditions are in line with international standards.
At this point it is unclear whether British officials will take any action, particularly whether extradition proceedings for Manning will be initiated. The likelihood of the UK coming to the rescue of Manning is very small, especially considering the US government interest in the case. The UK may offer its assistance to Manning, but extradition is doubtful at this point.
Manning is a UK citizen by descent from his Welsh mother, Susan. Government databases on births, deaths and marriages show that she was born Susan Fox in Haverfordwest in 1953. She married a then US serviceman, Brian Manning, stationed at a military base near the city and they had a daughter, Casey, in the same year. Bradley was born in Oklahoma in 1987.
Bradley was born in the US and is thus a US citizen. But under the British Nationality Act of 1981 anyone born outside the UK after January 1, 1983, who has a mother who is a UK citizen by birth is themself British by descent.
Manning has been held in a military jail located at the Quantico marine base in Virginia since last July, having been arrested in Iraq where he was stationed as a US army intelligence analyst two months previously. He is alleged to have been the source of several WikiLeaks exposés of US state secrets, including the massive trove of embassy cables released in November.
There is an ongoing debate as to whether his punishment is too severe compared to his actions. Many people, in the US and abroad, have been supporters of Manning, Julian Assange, and the publication of the embassy cables.
In December, the United Nations launched an investigation into his treatment to see if it amounted to torture.
The Foreign Office of the UK is not able to release any information on an individual’s nationality without that person’s consent. In general terms, the government normally will not intervene in cases of dual nationality where the person is held in the other country, but there are exceptions on humanitarian grounds, including claims of inhumane treatment. To view the British policy, please click here.
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Douglas McNabb and other members of the firm practice and write extensively on matters involving Federal Criminal Defense, Interpol Litigation, International Extradition and OFAC Litigation.
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