FORT MEADE, Maryland (AP) — Bradley Manning was set to make a public statement Wednesday as his sentencing hearing for leaking classified U.S. information nears an end. An Army psychologist testified that Manning’s private struggle with his gender identity in a hostile workplace put “incredible” pressure on him.
Defense attorney David Coombs said Manning can decide whether he will testify as a witness or make a sworn or unsworn statement. An unsworn statement cannot be cross-examined by the prosecution.
The 25-year-old did not speak at his trial and last made a statement in February, when he accepted responsibility for his acts.
Manning faces up 90 years in prison for his leaks to the anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks while working as an intelligence analyst in Iraq in 2010. He says he wanted to expose wrongdoing and provoke public debate.
It was the biggest leak of classified U.S. information in the country’s history.
Manning’s lawyers contend that the soldier showed clear signs of deteriorating mental health that should have prevented commanders from sending him to a war zone to handle classified information.
As testimony continued Wednesday, the Army psychologist, Capt. Michael Worsley, said Manning eventually came out to him and emailed him a photo of himself dressed as a woman, wearing a blonde wig and lipstick.
The photo was attached to a letter in which Manning described his problems with gender identity and his hope that a military career would “get rid of it.”
“You put him in that kind of hyper-masculine environment, if you will, with little support and few coping skills, the pressure would have been difficult to say the least,” Worsley said. “It would have been incredible.”
Worsley said some in Manning’s brigade “had difficulty understanding” recommendations the doctor would make regarding the mental health needs of some soldiers.