FORT MEADE - The US Army private charged with leaking classified US war documents was held in extreme confinement for nine months at a Marine Corps detention center because of a pattern of behavior suggesting suicidal thoughts, military officials testified Sunday at a pretrial hearing.

Despite several recommendations from the psychiatrist at the brig - the military detention center - that Army private Bradley Manning, 24, did not appear suicidal, two military sergeants who counseled Manning testified Sunday that he was uncommunicative, dismissive and had made suicidal comments before and during his detention at the Quantico, Virginia, Marine base.

Military judge Colonel Denise Lind said at Sunday's hearing that if a trial for Manning is held, it would begin next March, not in February, due to extensive pretrial motions.

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