A US soldier charged with leaking classified material to WikiLeaks in the biggest security breach in the country's history testified yesterday that he tied a bedsheet into a noose while considering suicide after his arrest.
Private Bradley Manning, 24, told US military prosecutors at a pretrial hearing he was seeking dismissal of his case, claiming he was illegally punished for nine months at a military jail in Quantico, Virginia, where he was sent after he was arrested in Baghdad, in Iraq, in 2010.
Manning claimed he made the noose in Kuwait before he was moved to Quantico. However, when he arrived at the jail he was classified as a suicide risk until he was given the less restrictive "prevention of injury" status – he said neither status was appropriate as he did not wish to hurt himself. Prosecutors said his jailers kept him in maximum custody with extra precautions to stop him from killing or hurting himself. He was locked up 23 hours a day and had to surrender his underwear at night.
Manning is charged with sending thousands of classified Afghanistan and Iraq war logs and 250,000 diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010. The military judge on Thursday accepted the terms under which he may plead guilty to eight of the 22 charges he faces. Under the offer, Manning would plead guilty to certain charges as violations of military regulations rather than as violations of federal espionage and computer security laws. The offences would carry maximum prison terms of 16 years rather than 72.
The judge hasn't formally accepted the pleas but has indicated she will consider them at a hearing this month.