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Lawyer For WikiLeaks Suspect Says Client Was Treated As 'Zoo Animal'

The pretrial hearing for WikiLeaks suspect Pfc. Bradley Manning ended Tuesday, but as The Associated Press reports, the massive amount of documents he is accused of leaking were hardly mentioned.

Instead, the hearing focused more on "a bedsheet noose, confiscated clothes and whether Manning seriously contemplated killing himself with flip-flops or the elastic waistband of his underwear."

Manning and his defense attorney, David E. Coombs, are trying to get the charges against the 24-year-old intelligence analyst thrown out, arguing that he was held by the military under harsh conditions for nine months after his 2010 arrest on suspicion of leaking classified documents to the website WikiLeaks.

As Coombs put it in closing arguments, Manning was "being treated as a zoo animal."

The Washington Post has more details:

"At Quantico, Manning was kept on either suicide watch or injury-prevention status for months. Every night for two months, he was stripped of his clothing and forced to sleep in a gown known as a "suicide smock."

He was monitored 24 hours a day. Guards testified during the hearing that he danced in his cell and played peekaboo with them, behavior they interpreted as unbalanced.

...

Coombs contends that the conditions of Manning's confinement at Quantico were so harsh that the charges against him should be dropped or that he should be given extra credit at his sentencing."

The most dramatic part of the 10-day hearing came when Manning himself took the witness stand. On his first day of testimony, he said he'd "contemplated suicide," and that he thought he was going to die in his "cage." On the second day, he talked about the noose he'd made.

Manning faces life in prison if he is convicted of the more serious of the 22 charges against him. Earlier last month, he offered to plead guilty to lesser charges, but a military judge has yet to rule on the offer.

The pretrial hearing is now over, but a military judge gave no indication of when she might rule, the AP reports.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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