Lawyers for the US soldier charged with passing a trove of classified documents to WikiLeaks accused the military Tuesday of withholding hundreds of emails over fears of a publicity nightmare. The defense team for Private Bradley Manning, who could be jailed for life for “aiding the enemy” over the massive security breach, alleged that more than 1,300 messages were ignored by prosecutors for at least six months. The emails relate to the conditions the 24-year-old trooper was held in during military detention at Quantico, Virginia, where he was sent after a spell in a US Army jail in Kuwait following his arrest while on duty in Iraq in 2010. Manning’s civilian lawyer David Coombs told a pre-trial hearing that 84 emails were released to the defense team on July 25, but he later discovered that 1,290 other messages remained on file. The government “chose to let these emails collect dust somewhere,” Coombs said on the first day of the three-day hearing at a military base in Fort Meade, Maryland, 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the US capital. Military prosecutors then suddenly announced that 600 other messages had been handed to Manning’s legal team on Monday, ahead of the hearing, but Coombs persisted with his attack. “It is the defense position that the government has been playing word games,” the lawyer said, implying that the emails were held back because the government adopted a deliberately narrow definition of their relevance. “That is the absurd nature of that excuse. That is ‘the dog ate my homework’ excuse,” Coombs added. The defense maintains that Manning was mistreated at Quantico, and even alleged Tuesday that the former intelligence analyst had been ordered by guards to stand at attention while completely naked. Coombs then took aim at top Marine officers responsible for running the jail, who he said had put their concerns about bad publicity ahead of their duty to provide fair treatment to detainees. The emails go as high up the chain as General George Flynn, the then commanding general of the US Marine Corps, who insisted that Manning be placed on suicide watch.