After 917 days in military captivity, the world finally heard on Thursday from Bradley Manning, the army soldier accused of being the source of the largest leak of government secrets in US history.
In a dramatic opening half-hour of testimony on the third day of the pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland, Manning spoke at length for the first time about the period after his arrest in May 2010.
His defence lawyer, David Coombs, drew a life-sized representation on the courtroom floor of the 6ft by 8ft cell in which Manning was held at the Quantico base in Virginia after he was brought to the US.
Manning seemed initially nervous but relaxed into his subject. He described a breakdown he had in Kuwait in the days after his arrest. “I was in a pretty stressed situation,” Manning said. “I had no idea what was going on with anything. I was getting very little information.
“I began to really deteriorate. I was anxious all the time about not knowing anything, days blend into night, night into days. Everything became more insular.”
Manning described how his guards stopped taking him out of his cell, preventing any interaction with other detainees. “I didn’t have a good understanding of the reasons. Someone tried to explain to me but I was a mess. I was starting to fall apart.”
He claimed that two or three times a day his guards would give him a “shakedown”. This involved taking him out the cell, then tearing apart everything he had in the cell.
Coombs asked Manning whether he had any recollection of an incident on 30 June 2010, when he had lost control of himself to the extent that doctors had to intervene. “He was screaming, babbling, banging his head against the cell,” said Coombs.
Manning replied: “I knew I had just fallen apart, everything is foggy and hazy at that point.”
The soldier said he thought he would die in Kuwait. “I remember thinking I’m going to die. I thought I was going to die in a cage,” he told the hearing.
- I thought I was going to die in that cage, says Bradley Manning (independent.co.uk)
- Bradley Manning Mistreated by Military, Psychiatrist Says (theageofblasphemy.wordpress.com)
- WikiLeaks suspect Manning tells court of his despair in ‘cage’ (dawn.com)
- Bradley Manning questioned during hearing in Wikileaks case over why he didn’t complain earlier about treatment in detention – @NBCNews (usnews.nbcnews.com)
- Soldier in WIKILEAKS case says he was held in a ‘cage’… (independent.co.uk)
- Wikileaks’ Manning Gives Evidence for First Time (the2012scenario.com)
- The American horror inflicted on Bradley Manning (antonyloewenstein.com)
- Manning testifies in WikiLeaks trial (bigpondnews.com)
- Bradley Manning to speak for first time since arrest in pre-trial testimony (guardian.co.uk)
- Bradley Manning: marine commander warned detention was inappropriate (guardian.co.uk)