US to move WikiLeaks' suspect to another prison

WASHINGTON - Bradley Manning, a US serviceman behind held for allegedly passing classified documents to WikiLeaks, will be transferred to a military facility in Kansas, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday.

The move comes after intense criticism of Manning's detention conditions in Quantico, Virginia.

"At this juncture of the case we have decided that the new joint correctional facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is the most appropriate facility for Private Manning for continued pretrial detention," Jeh Johnson, the general counsel of the Department of Defense, said at a news conference.

He said Manning's transfer was imminent.

The 23-year-old Welsh-born US army intelligence officer, who allegedly provided the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks with a trove of secret documents, has been imprisoned at Quantico since July 2010.

Manning's detention conditions, which have included solitary confinement and being forced to sleep naked, have drawn the attention of Amnesty International, the American Civil Liberties Union and Britain.

Amnesty International in February called Manning's detention "harsh and punitive" and urged Britain to intervene on his behalf.

Johnson said the move to Leavenworth had nothing to do with those complaints. "Many will be tempted to interpret today's action as a criticism of the pretrial facility at Quantico," he said.

"That is not the case. We remain satisfied that Private Manning's pretrial confinement at Quantico was in compliance with legal and regulatory standards in all respects," Johnson said.

Lieutenant Colonel Dawn Hilton, the commander of the Kansas prison, said Quantico was not intended for long-term incarceration, while Leavenworth Prison was designed for longer stays.

"I have the capacity to hold not only the pretrial prisoners, but post-trial prisoners sentenced up to five years," Hilton said.

"And with that comes all the support staff that Private First Class Manning may need. I have a state of the art facility and I have the experienced staff. It's more than just the facility, it's the staff," she said.