Bradley Manning is accused by the U.S. of leaking documents to Wikileaks.
The U.S. Army private charged with leaking classified U.S. documents was held in extreme confinement for nine months at a Marine Corps detention centre because of a pattern of behaviour suggesting suicidal thoughts, military officials testified at a pretrial hearing.
In spite of several recommendations from the psychiatrist at the brigade military detention centre that Army private Bradley Manning, 24, did not appear suicidal, two military sergeants who counseled Manning testified that he was uncommunicative, dismissive and had made suicidal comments before and during his detention at the Quantico, Virginia, Marine base.
The military judge, Denise Lind, said at the hearing that if a trial for Mr. Manning is held, it would begin next March, not in February, due to extensive pretrial motions.
Mr. Manning’s attorneys are trying to prove in a pre-trial hearing that the extreme confinement at Quantico constitutes illegal punishment, and should prompt the dismissal of 22 charges against him, including aiding the enemy, which is punishable by life in prison.
On Sunday, Army Staff Sergeant Ryan Jordan testified that Manning was `uncommunicative’ during his detention at Quantico.
Mr. Manning “wouldn’t open up,” Mr. Jordan said. “He wouldn’t talk to anybody.”
In their testimony, Mr. Jordan and Marine Master Sergeant Craig Blenis noted several incidents they said supported their concerns about Manning’s mental state.
They testified that he crafted a noose out of a bed sheet during confinement in Kuwait soon after his arrest; that he told a Marine brigade staffer in March 2011, that he could make a noose out of the elastic in his underwear; and stated upon arriving at Quantico in July 2010 that he was “always planning and never acting” on suicidal thoughts.
When one of Mr. Manning’s defence attorneys suggested that his client’s comment about the elastic band was simply a sarcastic assertion that if he really wanted to kill himself he could find a way, Mr. Blenis said it wasn’t interpreted that way.
“When we’re talking about suicidal statements or actions, sarcasm is out of the picture,” he testified. “I don’t go to an airport and joke about a bomb.”