By Gautham Nagesh - 03/16/11 09:25 PM EDT
The treatment of alleged WikiLeaks leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning is inhumane and violates the Eighth Amendment's prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, the ACLU charges.
ACLU executive director Anthony Romero wrote to Defense Secretary Robert Gates Wednesday, claiming that reports Manning is being forced to sleep naked in a military prison is a "gratuitously harsh treatment" that "violates fundamental constitutional norms."
"No legitimate purpose is served by keeping Private Manning stripped naked; in prolonged isolated confinement and utter idleness; subjected to sleep deprivation through repeated physical inspections throughout the night; deprived of any meaningful opportunity to exercise, even in his cell; and stripped of his reading glasses so that he cannot read," Romero said.
"Absent any evident justification, such treatment is clearly forbidden by our Constitution," he wrote.
Manning is accused of leaking top secret government files and is under investigation for being the source that provided WikiLeaks with the trove of classified diplomatic cables the site has published in recent months. The Pentagon has suggested the measures have been taken for Manning's safety.
"We ask that you take immediate steps to ensure that Private Manning is treated lawfully and humanely," Romero said.
On Sunday State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley resigned under pressure from the White House regarding controvesial comments he made about Manning.
-- This post was updated at 5:35 p.m.