WikiLeaks Bradley Manning
Maryland - AFP
WikiLeaks suspect Bradley Manning admitted to falling apart during his detention and contemplating suicide, as he took the stand for the first time at a pre-trial hearing.
The 24-year-old US Army private, facing possible life imprisonment over allegedly leaking documents to the secret-spilling WikiLeaks website, acknowledged he had suicidal thoughts initially when he was held in a "cage" in Kuwait in 2010.
He told the court he "started to fall apart" not long after being detained in Iraq in May 2010. After being held for a short time in Kuwait, he was transferred to a brig in Quantico, Virginia, where he was held for nine months.
Later on Thursday military judge Denise Lind said Manning could potentially plead guilty to lesser charges and avoid conviction for "aiding the enemy," which carries a possible life sentence.
However, the ruling focused solely on the wording of a proposal from Manning and did not represent formal acceptance of a plea, which could come at later proceedings.
During about five hours of testimony, Manning showed flashes of humor as he calmly recounted the severe restrictions and monotony he faced during his pre-trial confinement in Kuwait and Quantico.
The boyish-looking soldier recounted how he was forced to stand at attention naked in his cell and encountered angry responses when he questioned his detention regime. "If I needed toilet paper, I would stand to attention and shout: 'Detainee Manning requests toilet paper!'" he said.
Manning said that soon after his detention in Kuwait he lost phone privileges and started to feel increasingly anxious. "I totally started to fall apart. I certainly contemplated it [suicide] a few times," he said.
Manning, accused of the worst security breach in American history, faces a slew of charges over his alleged disclosures to WikiLeaks, which embarrassed the US government and rankled Washington's allies.