Manning takes the stand to talk about his detention

A U.S. Army analyst, charged in the largest security breach in U.S. military history, has taken the stand for the first time in a pre-trial hearing on his detention conditions.

Bradley Manning testified Thursday about restrictions he endured while in custody at an army base in Kuwait and later in Quantico, Virginia, near Washington. During his three-hour testimony, Manning said the time he spent alone in his cell was draining. He said there were times he thought he was going to die.

Manning is accused of downloading diplomatic cables onto compact discs that were sent to the anti-secrecy Web site WikiLeaks. He has offered to accept responsibility for the leak by pleading guilty to reduced charges. A decision on that offer has not been made.

The defendant has said that while at Quantico he was locked up alone in a windowless cell for 23 hours a day and forced to sleep naked. The military says the treatment was necessary because he posed a suicide risk.

Lawyers for Manning are asking for his charges to be dropped, saying the pretrial conditions were harsh enough.

Manning could spend the rest of his life in prison if found guilty.

The leaked diplomatic cables and military reports, published by WikiLeaks starting in July 2010, infuriated the international community, often providing blunt and unflattering U.S. views of world leaders’ private and public lives.

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