Manning Facing Solitary |After Suicide Attempt

     (CN) — WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning could face indefinite solitary confinement if the Army is successful in pursuing charges related to her attempted suicide earlier this month, her lawyers said.
     On July 5, Manning tried to take her life inside the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks in Ft. Leavenworth, where she has been incarcerated for sending hundreds of thousands of military and diplomatic files to WikiLeaks.
     Even before her arrest, Manning suffered from depression over the ramifications of her imminent exposure as the leaker, and her coming to grips as a then-closeted transgender woman in an Army that did not permit her to express her identity.
     The day after her conviction, the WikiLeaks source introduced herself to the world as Chelsea, and spent much of her time in lockup fighting for the Army to provide her medical care for her diagnosed gender dysphoria.
     In a statement on Thursday, one of her lawyers at the American Civil Liberties Union called it “deeply troubling” that the government is punishing her for her distress.
     “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,” attorney Chase Strangio said. “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.”
     In a phone interview, Strangio said a prison officer informed Manning of her exposure to five charges on Thursday morning.
     He noted that the Army’s punitive approach follows a nationwide pattern.
     “The prison systems in our country deal with mental health crises by putting people in isolation,” he said.
     For many officials, he added, the prevailing view is, “Oh, you’re in crisis, so let’s cut you off from the world.”
     Under pressure from an ACLU lawsuit, Ft. Leavenworth started providing Manning hormone therapy last year, but it still has refused doctor’s recommendations to let her grow out her hair.
     This is not Manning’s first suicide attempt under Army custody.
     Manning spent some nine months of her pre-trial lockup isolated in 6-by-8-foot cell of the now-shuttered Marine Corps brig in Quantico, Va., sometimes on suicide watch following a previous attempt with a makeshift noose.
     A military judge shaved less than a year off Manning’s sentence for the brig’s “unlawful pretrial punishment.”
     Calling this sentencing award too light, Manning’s lawyers have made this issue a pivot point of their appeal, and they have noted that the United Nations seeks to ban the type of long-term isolation she endured.
     The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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