Testifying on the harshness of his two and a half years of pretrial confinement, Army Pfc Bradley Manning, accused of leaking tens of thousands of classified documents to online news source WikiLeaks, acknowledged this week that he had tied a bed sheet into a noose when contemplating suicide during his imprisonment in Kuwait.
Manning was questioned about the noose during a pre-trial hearing in which the 24-year-old Army intelligence analyst testified of being held in solitary confinement for 23 hours a day in a six-by-eight-foot windowless cell, forced to sleep naked without bed sheets and kept on suicide watch in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, long after he said he had abandoned thoughts of suicide. On cross-examination, Army prosecutor Major Ashden Fein showed him a noose made of bed sheets and asked him if he had not fashioned a similar device during his Kuwait confinement. Manning said he did, and he acknowledged having had thoughts of taking his own life when he was processed as a "suicide risk" on his transfer to custody at Quantico, noting on his intake form that he was "always planning and never acting" on it.
Manning faces 22 federal espionage and breach of security charges stemming from the release to WikiLeaks of classified memos, Iraq and Afghanistan war logs, and Guantanamo prison records during the time he was stationed in Iraq as an intelligence analyst. The most controversial of the releases was a 2007 video showing a U.S. helicopter crew gunning down 11 men in Baghdad, including, it was later learned, a Reuters news photographer and his driver. The video appeared on the Internet under the heading, "Collateral Murder."
The Pentagon exonerated the crew, saying the shooting occurred during an attack in which the camera equipment was mistaken for weapons.
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Photo of Bradley Manning stepping out of a security vehicle while being escorted to courthouse: AP Images