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Bradley Manning suffered illegal pretrial punishment: judge

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — A military judge has reduced the potential sentence for an Army private accused of leaking classified documents to the WikiLeaks website, the Associated Press (AP) and the BBC report.

In a pretrial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, Colonel Denise Lind found that Private First Class Bradley Manning endured illegal pretrial punishment while held for nine months in a Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Virginia, and took 112 days off any prison sentence Manning receives, if convicted, according to the AP report. Manning's attorneys have sought to have the charges dismissed.

The report notes that Manning was kept in a windowless cell 23 hours a day, "sometimes without clothing." Brig authorities said it was to protect him from self-harm or from hurting others.

Manning, who has offered to take responsibility for the leaks in a pending plea offer, is charged with 22 offences, including aiding the enemy.

His trial is scheduled to begin March 6.

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