The director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons denied reports that former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega receives privileged treatment in his Dade County prison cell.
But a south Florida congressman said he was not satisfied with the Bureau of Prisons' response to complaints about Noriega's accommodations, and plans to inspect Noriega's cell next month."There are still some unanswered questions," said Rep. Larry Smith, D-Hollywood. "He seems to have gotten more favorable treatment than anyone I know."
Smith and 71 other federal lawmakers signed a petition Tuesday demanding that the Bureau of Prisons explain why Noriega has an exercise bike, color television and access to a private shower and a telephone.
The government also has provided a separate conference room with a computer, paper shredder and safe for Noriega's legal team.
Prisons director J. Michael Quinlan said Noriega "experiences much greater restriction than other inmates" because of his classified status as former leader of Panama.
"Any particular accommodations made to him are in recognition of the security issues he presents in the facility, and the possible needs his attorneys will have in handling classified documents in the preparation of the case," Quinlan told The Miami Herald Friday.
Part of the restrictions are for Noriega's protection, said prisons spokesman Dan Dunne. Inmates yelled and "made gestures" at Noriega once when he was allowed into a prison recreation area, Dunne said.