Chelsea Manning 'could be charged over her suicide attempt'

The 28-year-old has been told she could face indefinite solitary confinement

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The Independent Online

Chelsea Manning, the former military whistleblower serving a 35-year jail term, may be charged over her attempted suicide. If convicted, she could be sentenced to indefinite solitary confinement or transfer to a maximum-security facility, according to a civil rights group that has been representing her legally.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced on Thursday that Manning, who is being held in military custody for leaking state secrets to WikiLeaks, was told she was under investigation for three charges related to her 5 July suicide attempt.

“It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life. The government has long been aware of Chelsea’s distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary,” said ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio. 

Protesters call for Chelsea Manning's release (Reuters)

“Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain. It is unconscionable and we hope that the investigation is immediately ended and that she is given the health care that she needs to recover.”

Since she was first taken into custody in 2010, Chelsea, a transgender woman being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement and denied medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria.

The group said that the new charges related to an incident on July 5 when it was reported that she has tried to take her own life. In July, Manning confirmed through her lawyers that she was receiving medical care after the incident.

The US Army has yet to comment on the claim from the ACLU.  

Manning was sentenced to 35 years of prison in 2013 after she gave hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. The soldier legally dropped her former name, was approved for hormone therapy in February of 2015.

Earlier this month, Manning’s lawyer, Nancy Hollander, said in a statement that she was “shocked and outraged” that an official at Fort Leavenworth provided “confidential medical information” about Manning to the media but had not shared anything with her team.

Manning was sentenced in August 2013 to 35 years’ imprisonment, with the possibility of parole in the eighth year after being convicted of leaking classified material to Wikileaks. 

Manning, who was born Bradley Manning, said in a statement after the sentencing that she had felt female since childhood and wanted to be known as Chelsea.

“As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me,” she said at the time.