US soldier in WikiLeaks case says he was 'caged'
Fort Meade (US), Nov 30, 2012, Reuters: 23:55 IST
A US Army private facing court-martial on suspicion of leaking secret documents to the WikiLeaks website testified on Thursday that he was confined to a “cage” in the early days after his arrest in 2010, and thought he would die there.
Bradley Manning, in his first public comments since his arrest in Iraq, said his isolation led to a rapid decline in his awareness of his surroundings.
He said that he was initially given little or no information about the charges against him. “My nights were my days and my days were my nights,” Manning said. “It all blended together after a couple of days.”
Manning said he was confined to a structure he called a “cage” just eight feet square located inside a tent. He suffered a breakdown about a month after his May 2010 arrest, and guards later found a noose in the cage. Manning had made the noose but failed to recall he had done so because he was so disoriented, he said. “I remember thinking I’m going to die stuck here in this cage,” Manning said. “I thought I was going to die in that cage. That’s what I saw - an animal cage.”
Manning has offered to plead guilty to less serious offenses than those with which he has been charged, according to his lawyer. If Manning’s case proceeds to trial and he is convicted of all the security breach charges against him, he could face life imprisonment.
Charges include stealing records belonging to the United States and wrongfully causing them to be published on the Internet and aiding enemies of the US, identified by prosecutors as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.