Manning expected to testify at pretrial hearing

Solider accused of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks has been in custody since May 2010

Bradley Manning, the U.S. soldier accused of leaking thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents to whistleblower site WikiLeaks, is expected to argue this week that the charges against him should be dropped because he has already been punished enough while in custody awaiting trial.

Army Private First Class Bradley Manning is escorted in handcuffs as he leaves the courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., in June 2012. (Jose Luis Magaua / Reuters)

According to the Associated Press and other news services, Manning was scheduled to appear at a pre-trial hearing in Fort Meade, Md., starting Tuesday afternoon and expected to last until Sunday. The hearing will give Manning his first opportunity to speak publicly since his arrest in Kuwait in May 2010.

Manning is accused of accessing tens of thousands of U.S. diplomatic cables, military documents and videos of U.S. airstrikes in Afghanistan and Iraq and handing them over to WikiLeaks. He has been charged with a total of 22 crimes, including violation of the Espionage Act, aiding the enemy, and stealing government property. He faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted on all charges.

After his arrest, Manning was held at the military's Quantico, Va., facility between July 2010 and April 2011 and later moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kan. During his nine-month detention at Quantico, Manning was allegedly locked up in solitary confinement in a 6-foot by 8-foot cell and kept under constant suicide watch.

In legal documents released in July, Manning's lawyer David Coombs claimed that Manning was often forced to sleep naked, sit erect on his bunk from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, and not allowed any meaningful exercise or contact with others.

Though there was little to show he posed a physical threat to himself or to others, Manning was treated as a maximum custody detainee under Prevention of Injury status for eight months, Coombs claimed in court documents. The designation meand that Manning was kept under round-the-clock supervision, and shackled hand and foot whenever he was removed from his cell.

Military officials have contended that Manning was treated in an appropriate manner throughout.

Jaikumar Vijayan covers data security and privacy issues, financial services security and e-voting for Computerworld. Follow Jaikumar on Twitter at @jaivijayan or subscribe to Jaikumar's RSS feed. His e-mail address is jvijayan@computerworld.com.

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