Bradley Manning's jail conditions improve dramatically after protest campaign

Switch of WikiLeaks whistleblower suspect from maximum security jail means more rights and liberties in run-up to trial

Ed Pilkington in New York,

Bradley Manning's new jail conditions were hailed by the Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich as a victory for Manning's supporters, who claimed his original treatment amounted to torture. Photograph: Martin Argles for the Guardian

The conditions under which the WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning is being detained in military prison have vastly improved in the wake of a sustained campaign against his earlier treatment, which some said amounted to torture.

Since Manning was transferred from the Quantico marine base in Virginia to Fort Leavenworth on 20 April his detention regime has changed dramatically.

He has been switched from maximum security to medium custody, which affords him many more rights and liberties, and he is no longer being held under a prevention of injury watch that imposed harsh conditions.

The new regime has been revealed in a blog post from Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, who is handling the US soldier's forthcoming court martial.

The prisoner, who worked as an army intelligence specialist in Iraq, has been charged with multiple counts relating to the leaking of a huge trove of state secrets to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

Under the old prevention order, Manning was forced to strip naked and wear just a smock at night, he had no bedding and was not permitted any personal items in his cell. He was kept locked up in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day in a windowless cell, and allowed only to walk in a yard on his own for that final hour.

In Fort Leavenworth, by contrast, he has a large window that lets in natural light. He has a normal mattress and bedding and his clothes are not removed at night.

Manning can have personal objects in his cell, including books and letters from family and friends, as well as legal documents relating to his case. He can write whenever he wants.

His new life of detention is also considerably less lonely. There are five other pretrial prisoners and Manning spends much of the day in their company. His cell is connected to a common area used by four of the detainees with a television and exercise machine, table and shower area.

The improvement in Manning's prison life is testament to the power of a sustained campaign by his supporters and politicians to end what was deemed virtual torture against him.

The Pentagon had been flooded with emails and lobbied by representatives such as Dennis Kucinich, a Democratic congressman from Ohio who took up Manning's cause.

The UK embassy in Washington has also been involved after the Guardian revealed that Manning is a British citizen by dint of his mother being Welsh.

Kucinich said the lawyer's account of Manning's new conditions revealed a dramatic change "that can only be attributed to the public campaign that brought great pressure on the department of defence".

But Manning's more relaxed treatment also raises serious questions about why he was treated so brutally for the nine months in which he was held at Quantico. When Barack Obama was asked about the case in March, he said he had been assured by the Pentagon that Manning's treatment was appropriate.

Kucinich said he would continue to press through Congress for answers to a number of questions: "Why was Manning treated the way he was in Quantico that was similar to torture? Who was responsible for that treatment, and what's going to be done to ensure those individuals are held to account?"