Last Thursday, human rights and Julian Assange lawyer Jennifer Robinson was held up on her flight from London to Sydney for security reasons. Over the years, journalists have been interrogated and detained at borders, often for purely political reasons. This incident was unprecedented with a lawyer now facing similar treatment.
Robinson was told that she is on an "inhibited" list of mysterious origin and that the Australian High Commission in London needed to be contacted before her departure. At some point, she was given the green light to board without that call being made and was able to get to her destination. When pressed, Australian Attorney General Roxon showed concern about the incident. She said that "this is not the result of any action taken by the Australian Government. We believe [Robinson], as an Australian who is not subject to any criminal charges or allegations, should be free to travel in and out of Australia."
The Guardian reported that "The Australian high commission in London has no record of a call being received from UK authorities concerning her travel". Virgin Atlantic, the airline that stopped Robinson, deferred responsibility to security services, while the UK Border Agency and DFAT each deny involvement.
The last 7 days have seen numerous developments in the Bradley Manning story, which indicate clear problems with the official line on Manning's detainment and on the criminal investigation into Manning's charges. We have also been given insight into the management of the Brig at Quantico, and into the process by which the United States government discourages supporters of causes it find troublesome. (For the complete background on the Bradley Manning story, please see FDL's excellent timeline, here.)
Manning on Suicide Watch
Last week, as summarised in this Jane Hamsher post on FDL, Bradley Manning's conditions were decidedely worsened when Quantico Brig Commander James Averhart moved him to suicide watch - a move allowing his confinement in conditions equivalent to solitary confinement, while ostensibly being "for his own good."
For over five months, Bradley Manning has been held under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch at the Quantico Brig against the recommendations of three forensic psychiatrists. Manning’s attorney, David Coombs, has filed an Article 138 Complaint under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, asserting that this represents an abuse of Brig Commander James Averhart’s discretion.
In a development which may cast new light on yesterday's incidents at Quantico military prison, NBC reports that "U.S. military officials" indicated that Bradley Manning was placed on suicide watch last week by Brig Commander James Averhart, in a violation of procedure.
The officials told NBC News, however, that a U.S. Marine commander did violate procedure when he placed Manning on "suicide watch" last week.
Military officials said Brig Commander James Averhart did not have the authority to place Manning on suicide watch for two days last week, and that only medical personnel are allowed to make that call.
The official said that after Manning had allegedly failed to follow orders from his Marine guards. Averhart declared Manning a "suicide risk." Manning was then placed on suicide watch, which meant he was confined to his cell, stripped of most of his clothing and deprived of his reading glasses — anything that Manning could use to harm himself. At the urging of U.S. Army lawyers, Averhart lifted the suicide watch.