A Marine guard testifying in a pretrial hearing for alleged WikiLeaks leaker Pfc. Bradley Manning undercut the government’s contention that Manning’s confinement in isolation — sometimes without clothing — was justified because he was a suicide risk.
Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonathan Cline, testifying as a prosecution witness, told the court that Manning was always respectful and compliant prior to an incident on Jan. 18, 2011 in which Manning hid behind an exercise machine and wept after being scolded by a guard for failing to properly respond to a command. Another former guard, Marine Lance Cpl. Joshua Tankersly, echoed Cline’s testimony regarding Manning’s behavior.
According to Cline, some brig workers were annoyed that a pro-Manning protest the previous day had closed Quantico’s main gate, forcing them to take alternate routes home. Manning had previously testified that on Jan. 18, guards seemed angry with him as they escorted him — in leg irons and handcuffs — to an exercise room. He said the guards’ behavior made him nervous. There was eventually what Manning described as a heated argument between Manning and a guard that left Manning cowering behind the exercise machine. It was later that day that brig commander Chief Warrant Officer 4 James Averhart added “suicide risk” to Manning’s maximum-custody conditions.
“I thought I was going to be attacked or assaulted or something like that,” Manning said.
Former brig worker Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. William Fuller testified that Manning was often uncommunicative and withdrawn, possibly signaling a suicide risk.
Manning, an intelligence analyst in Baghdad in 2009 and 2010, is charged with 22 offenses, including aiding the enemy and violating Federal espionage and computer security laws, and faces life in prison. He is thought to be the source of a series of leaks to the Website WikiLeaks that included a video of U.S. Apache helicopter pilots firing on Iraqi civilians and journalists.
He recently offered to admit to willfully sending a battlefield video file, some classified memos, more than 20 Iraq war logs, more than 20 Afghanistan war logs and other classified materials to WikiLeaks and wrongfully storing classified information in exchange for a lenient sentence. The government has not said whether it would accept the plea.
Manning’s attorneys claim the nine months Manning spent in virtual isolation amounted to illegal pretrial punishment and are seeking to have all charges against him dismissed.