By Mike Mount
U.S. Army private Bradley Manning is expected to take the stand for the first time this week as his lawyers plan to use his claim of mistreatment by military jailers to get his case thrown out.
The Army intelligence analyst is suspected of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified military and State Department documents while serving in Iraq. Many of them ended up on the WikiLeaks website. WikiLeaks has never confirmed that Manning was the source of the information.
Manning's lawyer, David Coombs, filed a motion last August to dismiss charges based on a claim, Manning says, of harsh treatment while held at the brig at the Marine base at Quantico, Virginia.
The pre-trial hearing that starts Tuesday at Ft. Mead, Maryland, will be the first time Manning will have spoken in court other than answering procedural questions, said Jeff Paterson, a spokesman for the Bradley Manning Support Network.
Paterson said that he expects Manning will not take the stand until Wednesday or Thursday, following testimony by the government's witnesses from Quantico.
Manning's lawyers and supporters claim he was subjected to mistreatment during his time in the jail from July 2010 until he was moved to the military prison at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, in April 2011, according to Paterson.
Paterson said Manning was required to stand nude in front of guards outside his cell, was prevented from exercising, and had to respond every five minutes - around the clock - to loud verbal queries to ensure he was not trying to commit suicide.
The Pentagon has maintained that Manning was held in accordance with rules governing all maximum-custody detainees at Quantico for his protection and the safety of others, and that Manning was on "POI" status, for "prevention of injury."
Paterson told Security Clearance that if the motion to dismiss is denied, Coombs will request a "time-served" credit that could shave more than seven years off any sentence he is given, if convicted.
Charges against Manning include aiding the enemy, wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, transmitting national defense information and theft of public property or records.
He could receive a sentence of up to life, if convicted.