Marine testifies to suicide risk

Posted: November 29, 2012

FORT MEADE, Md. - An Army private accused of sending reams of classified U.S. documents to the secret-spilling website WikiLeaks was kept in tight pretrial confinement partly because another prisoner had recently committed suicide, the former security chief at the Quantico, Va., Marine Corps base testified Wednesday.

Marine Col. Robert Oltman appeared as a witness on the second day of a pretrial hearing for Pfc. Bradley Manning, who is seeking dismissal of all charges, claiming his confinement in the Quantico brig amounted to illegal punishment.

Oltman and others have testified that psychiatrists who examined Manning at Quantico repeatedly recommended that his conditions be eased. But Oltman, whose command included the brig, said he was skeptical about at least one of those recommendations because another detainee had killed himself in December 2009 after his custody status was reduced based upon the advice of the same doctor, Navy Capt. William Hochter, the psychiatrist assigned to the brig.

"He didn't have the strongest credibility with me with regards to his recommendations," Oltman said under questioning by civilian defense attorney David Coombs.

Manning was held at Quantico for nine months, from July 2010 to April 2011, when he was moved to Fort Leavenworth, Kan.

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