UK & World News

  • 30 November 2012, 6:16

Bradley Manning Thought He Would Die 'Caged'

The US soldier accused of giving classified documents to WikiLeaks has said he felt like a doomed, caged animal after he was arrested in Baghdad.

Private First Class Bradley Manning testified on the third day of a pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade, outside Baltimore, Maryland.

His lawyers are seeking the dismissal of all charges, claiming his pre-trial confinement at a military prison in Quantico, Virginia, was needlessly harsh.

Before he was sent there in July 2010, Manning spent some time in a cell in a segregation tent at Camp Arifjan, a US Army facility in Kuwait.

"I remember thinking I'm going to die. I'm stuck inside this cage," Manning said under questioning by defence lawyer 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 looked youthful in his dark blue dress uniform, close-cropped hair and rimless eyeglasses. He was animated, often swivelling in the witness chair and gesturing with his hands.

Speaking in emphatic bursts, sometimes stumbling over his words, he said that at Quantico, where he was held for nine months in highly restrictive maximum custody: "I started to feel like I was mentally going back to Kuwait mode, in that lonely, dark, black hole place, mentally."

Manning said he never sank that low but grew frustrated after five months of spending up to 23 hours a day in a windowless, 6ft by 8ft cell.

"It was pretty draining. Tiring," Manning said.

He described it as "boredom. Complete, out-of-my-mind boredom."

Manning, who is trying to avoid trial in the WikiLeaks case, argues he was punished enough when he was locked up and had to sleep naked for several nights.

The military contends the treatment was proper, given Manning's classification then as a maximum-security detainee who posed a risk of injury to himself or others.

Earlier, a military judge accepted the terms under which Manning would plead guilty to eight charges for sending classified documents to WikiLeaks.

Colonel Denise Lind's ruling does not mean the pleas have been formally accepted. That could happen in December.

But Col Lind approved the language of the offences to which Manning would admit.

She said those offences carry a total maximum prison term of 16 years.