The U.S. Army private accused of leaking thousands of classified government documents to WikiLeaks will be transferred from a Marine Corps detention center at Quantico, Va., to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, ahead of trial, the Pentagon said today.
Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon general counsel, told reporters the military decided to move Pfc. Bradley Manning, 23, to Leavenworth's state-of-the-art Joint Regional Correctional Facility, in part to provide him with greater access to mental, emotional and physical health resources.
Johnson said the transfer was not prompted by outcry over conditions at the Quantico facility, which have drawn protests from several international human rights groups and representatives of German and U.K. governments and allegations that the military has violated Manning's basic human rights.
Manning, who has not yet been convicted of a crime, spends all but one hour a day in solitary confinement, has to exercise in chains, and is stripped naked each night and forced to wear what his attorney describes as a scratchy, suicide-proof smock.
The military has disputed claims that Manning has been mistreated, insisting he is being treated professionally like every other detainee.
"He's being provided well-balanced, nutritious meals three times a day. He receives visitors and mail, and can write letters. He routinely meets with doctors as well as his attorney," Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said in January. "Assertions ... that he is being mistreated, or somehow treated differently than others, in isolation, are just not accurate."
Manning's supporters said they believe the military is trying to use the distance from Washington to make it more difficult for the legal team to coordinate a defense and for visitors to meet with Manning.
"This is a good strategic move by the Army to make it harder for his supporters to rally around him," said Jeff Paterson, a spokesman for the Bradley Manning Support Network, which has mobilized grassroots support for Manning and is raising money to pay civilian attorney David Coombs.
"There's no question that if President Obama or the State Department wanted his detention conditions changed at Quantico, all they would have had to do is pick up the phone," Paterson said.
Manning has been in military detention for more than nine months, but has not yet been formally indicted. He was arrested in May 2010 after allegedly telling a former hacker that he had given documents to WikiLeaks.
In March, the Army filed 22 new counts against Manning, including aiding the enemy, theft of public property or records, computer fraud and transmitting information in violation of the Espionage Act. He could face the death penalty or life in prison if convicted.
ABC News' Kirit Radia contributed to this report.