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Bradley Manning takes stand at Wikileaks hearing
Bradley Manning, the US soldier suspected of sending classified information to whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, on Thursday testified at a pretrial hearing. He hopes to avoid trial by arguing that solitary confinement was sufficient punishment.
A U.S. soldier charged in the biggest security breach in the country’s history testified Thursday that he felt like a doomed, caged animal after he was arrested in Iraq for allegedly sending classified information to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks.
Bradley Manning testified on the third day of a pretrial hearing. His lawyers are seeking dismissal of all charges, contending his pretrial confinement in a Marine Corps brig in the U.S. was needlessly harsh.
Before he was sent to the brig in July 2010, Manning spent time in a cell in a segregation tent at Camp Arifjan, an Army installation in Kuwait.
“I remember thinking I’m going to die. I’m stuck inside this cage,” a nervous Manning said under questioning by defense attorney David Coombs. “I just thought I was going to die in that cage. And that’s how I saw it - an animal cage.”
The 24-year-old intelligence analyst is trying to avoid trial. He argues he was punished enough when he was locked up alone in a small cell for nearly nine months in solitary confinement and had to sleep naked for several nights.
The military contends the treatment was proper, given Manning’s classification at the time as a maximum-security detainee who posed a risk of injury to himself or others.
Earlier Thursday, a military judge accepted the terms under which Manning would plead guilty to eight lesser charges, which carry a total maximum prison term of 16 years.
The ruling doesn’t mean the pleas have been formally accepted. That could happen in December. But the judge approved the language of the offenses to which Manning would admit.
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 14 counts he faces, including aiding the enemy. That offense carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
Under the proposal, Manning would admit to willfully sending a battlefield video file, some classified memos, more than 20 Iraq war logs, more than 20 Afghanistan war logs and other classified materials. He would also plead guilty to wrongfully storing classified information.