US soldier Bradley Manning spoke publicly for the first time on Thursday, saying he had feared dying in custody after his arrest for sending classified information to WikiLeaks.
"I remember thinking I'm going to die. I'm stuck inside this cage," Private Manning told a pretrial hearing, describing the nearly two months in 2010 he spent in a cell in Kuwait before being moved to the US.
"I just thought I was going to die in that cage.
"That's how I saw it - an animal cage."
He was later sent to a forces prison in Virginia where he he was held for nine months in highly restrictive maximum custody.
His lawyers are seeking dismissal of all charges, saying his confinement was needlessly harsh.
He spent up to 23 hours a day in a small windowless cell.
Mr Manning said he was once forced to stand naked at attention and had to sleep naked for several nights.
He faces life imprisonment if found guilty of aiding the enemy but a military judge accepted the terms of eight lesser charges to which Mr Manning would be willing to plead guilty.
The offences carry a maximum term of 16 years and would allow Mr Manning to take responsibility for sending classified documents to WikiLeaks.
But the pleas haven't been accepted yet and officials have not indicated if they would continue prosecuting him for the other 14 counts he faces.