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Detention of Wikileaks soldier ‘disgraceful’

Washington -

The lawyer defending the US soldier accused of leaking classified documents to whistleblowing website WikiLeaks late Monday slammed his client's initial detention conditions as “disgraceful.”

Army Pfc Bradley Manning. Credit: AP

The first nine months of Bradley Manning's incarceration, which he spent at the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia, would be remembered “as a disgraceful moment” David Coombs told a gathering of reporters and Manning's supporters in Washington.

“Not only was it stupid and counterproductive, it was criminal.”

Manning, 24, has said he spent up to 23 hours a day in solitary confinement in a small cell and was forced to sleep naked at the Quantico facility.

Speaking in court for the first time on Thursday, he said his defence would push for time he spent there, before being moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, in May 2011, to count towards any prison sentence.

His trial is scheduled to begin next year on 22 charges, including theft, computer fraud, aiding the enemy and publishing intelligence.

His lawyer has reportedly offered a guilty plea for the lesser charges, incurring 16 years in prison, if the more serious charges, for which his client could face life, are dropped.

While stationed in Iraq, Army Private First Class Manning allegedly downloaded documents from US government computers about military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as diplomatic cables from US embassies that contained embarassing information about governments and leaders around the world.

The cables were apparently passed to the operators of the WikiLeaks website, which has published several thousand of them. - Sapa-dpa

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