Bradley Manning acknowledges that he acted weirdly in detention—but that was thanks to "sheer out-of-my-mind boredom," he said yesterday in a pretrial hearing. The soldier accused of passing volumes of classified material to WikiLeaks gave his first testimony yesterday after being held for more than 900 days. As he spoke, he smiled, twisted his swivel chair, and occasionally interrupted his lawyer, the Los Angeles Times reports. His lawyers are hoping for a dismissal of charges on the grounds that he was confined under illegal conditions.
At first, Manning was held in a small cell on a US base in Kuwait: "I thought I was going to die in that cage," he said. "And that's how I saw it, as an animal cage." The hearing addressed Manning's pretend sword-fights and his habit of making faces in the mirror; as for whether he licked the bars of his cell, he said he didn't remember doing so. Called a danger to himself, Manning had to spend some nights naked; he once got stuck in a suicide-prevention smock and had to ask guards for help, he said. But a psychiatrist who assessed him testified that he had not been a threat to himself. The judge at yesterday's hearing approved the possibility of a guilty plea to lesser charges (eight of the 22 he faces). That could land Manning in prison for 16 years rather than the 72 years those eight charges carry—but such a plea wouldn't necessarily halt prosecution of the larger chargers, reports the AP.