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Marine Officer Concedes Rules Broken In Bradley Manning's Confinement

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Protesters outside Fort Meade show their support for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been detained, often in restricted conditions, since July 2010.
Elliott Francis
Protesters outside Fort Meade show their support for Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who has been detained, often in restricted conditions, since July 2010.

The former commander of a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., says he ordered tight restrictions on Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, charged with leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, for the soldier's own good.

Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Averhart testified Thursday at a military pretrial hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning. Manning claims he was held under conditions so harsh that his case should be dismissed.

Manning testified last week that he was only allowed 20 minutes a day outside of his 6 ft. by 8 ft. cell, and even then, only in full hand leg irons. He was not given a pillow and was not allowed to lie down in his bed. And he had to ask for toilet paper every time he wanted to use the latrine.

Averhart confirmed much of that account, saying that they could have been used in a possible suicide attempt.

He acknowledged that military regulations required him to remove Manning from highly restrictive suicide watch upon a psychiatrist's recommendation, but he said he did not feel comfortable following the mental health evaluation due to a lack of trust with the psychiatrist.

Averhart further cited concern Manning's history of anxiety, depression and suicidal gestures as the reason Manning was kept under suicide watch.

The Marine Corps' chief of corrections testified Wednesday that Averhart wrongly kept Manning on suicide watch for at least seven days of his nine months' confinement.

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