An Army private charged in the biggest security breach in U.S. history has testified that he felt like a doomed, caged animal after he was arrested in Baghdad for allegedly sending classified information to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks.
Pfc. Bradley Manning testified Thursday at a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade, outside Baltimore. His lawyers are seeking dismissal of all charges, contending his pretrial confinement in a Quantico, Va., Marine Corps brig was needlessly harsh.
Before he was sent to Quantico in July 2010, Manning spent weeks in a cell in a segregation tent at Camp Arifjan, an Army installation in Kuwait.
Manning says he remembers thinking "I'm going to die, I'm stuck inside this cage.'' He was allowed only 20 minutes a day outside of his 6 ft. by 8 ft. cell, and then only in full hand and leg irons.
Earlier today, military judge Col. Denise Lind has accepted the terms under which Army Pfc. Bradley Manning would plead guilty to seven charges for sending classified documents to Wikileaks at a pretrial hearing in Fort Meade, Md.
The ruling doesn't mean the pleas have been formally accepted. That could happen in December. But Lind approved the language of the offenses to which Manning would admit.
She said those offenses carry a total maximum prison term of 16 years.
Manning made the offer as a way of accepting responsibility for the leak. Government officials have not said whether they would continue prosecuting him for the other 15 counts he faces, including aiding the enemy. That offense carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Manning also testified Thursday that he contemplated taking his own life when
he was first detained in Kuwait, but said he told a psychiatrist a "futile
and pointless act not worth following through on."
The officer in charge of security for Quantico's brig testified Tuesday he was reluctant to ease Manning status, fearing he might repeat the actions of another inmate who committed suicide after his strict confinement status was lifted.
But a Navy psychologist who testified Wednesday argued that the increased restrictions for Manning were unnecessary because Manning was not suicidal while confined at Quantico.
Kevin Zeese is an attorney with the Bradley Manning Support Network.
"Attorney Coombs is asking that the case be dismissed. There have been cases that have been dismissed for this kind of punishment before trial, and of those cases, Manning's treatment was worse," Zeese says. "If it wasn't for the high profile nature of this case, I think the chances of dismissal would be very strong."