Manning takes stand at pre-trial hearing and speaks at length about his treatment by the military following his arrest in 2011

After 917 days in military captivity, the world finally heard on Thursday from Bradley Manning, the army soldier accused of being the source of the largest leak of government secrets in US history.

In a dramatic opening half-hour of testimony on the third day of the pre-trial hearing at Fort Meade military base in Maryland, Manning spoke at length for the first time about the period after his arrest in May 2010.

Manning detailed the trauma he experienced at the hands of the US military while he was incarcerated for having allegedly handed hundreds of thousands of US diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.

His defence lawyer, David Coombs, drew a life-sized representation on the courtroom floor of the 6ft by 8ft cell in which Manning was held at the Quantico base in Virginia after he was brought to the US.

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