Lawyer Says Manning Treated Like 'Zoo Animal'

Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, center, is escorted into a courthouse in Fort Meade, Md., in November.

The lawyer for the U.S. Army private accused of leaking data to WikiLeaks says his client's jailers at a military prison mistreated him for appearance's sake.

Attorney David Coombs said during a pretrial hearing Tuesday at Fort Meade, Md., that Quantico officials ignored health professionals' opinion that Pfc. Bradley Manning wasn't a risk and kept him isolated 23 hours a day to guard against reproach because of Manning's high profile, The Washington Post reported.

"They were more concerned with how [their actions] would appear to the Marine Corps and Quantico than if Manning was at risk of self harm," Coombs said in closing arguments.

Manning, 24, is accused of turning over hundreds of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, the whistle-blowing website. He faces 22 charges, including aiding the enemy.

Army Maj. Ashden Fein, one of the prosecutors, said in his closing argument that guards at Quantico only wanted to protect Manning.

"Yes, they were cautious," Fein said. "They wanted to get him to trial."

At Quantico, officials kept Manning on either suicide watch or injury-prevention status for months, the defense said. For two months he was stripped nightly and had to sleep in a "suicide smock" gown. Manning was monitored 24 hours a day.

Coombs argued that Manning's confinement was so severe that charges should be dropped or he should be given due credit at sentencing.

"The fact that Manning's spirit is not broken is amazing," Coombs said. "Being treated as a zoo animal for that period of time has to weigh heavily on the psyche."

At the defense table, Manning listened and looked over papers, the Post said. He testified earlier he considered suicide after he was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq but said he wasn't a danger to himself or others after the first few days.

Fein said no evidence indicated Manning was mistreated.

The prosecutor did acknowledge Manning was held improperly on suicide watch twice for a total of seven days, the Post said. He said Manning should receive credit for those days at sentencing.

Manning is being held at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. His next hearing is in January and a court-martial is to begin in March.

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