WikiLeaks source Manning was mentally sick, argues defence

Bradley ManningLawyers for Bradley Manning, the US army private convicted of giving classified documents to the fugitive Julius Assange's WikiLeaks, sought to show during a sentencing hearing on Tuesday that the army ignored his mental health problems and bizarre behaviour.

His lead attorney David Coombs told the ongoing court martial at Fort Meade in Maryland that Manning's violent outbursts and his email to a supervisor with a photo of himself in a dress and blond wig with the caption: "This is my problem" were signs the gay soldier should not have a job as an intelligence analyst.

Manning, a 25-year-old PFC (private first class) faces up to 90 years in prison after he was convicted 30 July on 20 charges, including espionage and theft. He is responsible for the biggest release of classified files in US history (See: Wiki-leaker Bradley Manning 'guilty' on 17 counts but cleared of sedition).

Attorneys for Manning are expected to read a statement from him today as they conclude their case in the last part of the trial. Sentencing by Judge Colonel Denise Lind could follow shortly after.

Coombs asked Manning's supervisor, former Master Sergeant Paul Adkins, why he did not remove Manning from his job as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2009 and 2010 when he showed erratic and sometimes violent behaviour.

Coombs mentioned incidents in which Manning punched a soldier in the face, carved the words "I want" into a chair with a knife and flipped over a table while being reprimanded about being late to his job.

Adkins said his unit was short-staffed and needed Manning's analysis work.

"The biggest threat to our soldiers and our operational environment emerged from the Shia (Muslim) insurgent group, which PFC Manning helped to assess," said Adkins, who was demoted after the WikiLeaks release.

He said he believed Manning was being helped by mental therapy. "I wrongly assessed that he was stable enough to continue his shift," Adkins said.

Coombs has asserted that the Army's failure to act on Manning's mental health problems contributed to his release of more than 700,000 secret diplomatic and military documents and videos.

(Also see: US secrets leaker Manning nominated for Nobel Peace Prize)