Bradley Manning testified Thursday about restrictions he endured while in custody at an army base in Kuwait and later in Quantico, Virginia (near Washington). During his three-hour testimony, Manning complained the time he spent alone in his cell was draining. He claimed there were times he thought he was going to die.
Manning downloaded thousands of diplomatic cables and other Top Secret material onto compact discs that were sent to the anti-American website WikiLeaks. He has offered to accept responsibility for the leak by pleading guilty to reduced charges. A decision on that offer has not been made.
The defendant has said that while at Quantico he was locked up alone in a windowless cell for 23 hours a day and forced to sleep naked. The military notes the treatment was necessary because he posed a suicide risk. Manning made multiple threats of suicide, including to hang himself by his underwear waistband.
Lawyers for Manning are asking for his charges to be dropped, saying the pretrial conditions were harsh enough. Manning has claimed that he was too gay to be given a Security Clearance in the first place, much less access to classified material. Prior to Clinton's DADT policy, homosexuals were denied a security clearance or entry into the military.
Manning could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty.
The leaked diplomatic cables and military reports, published by WikiLeaks starting in July 2010, infuriated the international community, often providing blunt and unflattering U.S. views of world leaders' private and public lives and placing the lives of Iraqi and Afghani, as well as US Soldiers and Dipomats in danger.
U.S. officials say WikiLeaks' publication of the stolen documents put lives in danger, threatened national security and undermined U.S. efforts to work with other countries. VoA.