Chelsea Manning may face charges relating to a suicide attempt this year, which could lead to indefinite solitary confinement or transferral to a maximum-security facility, according to a civil rights group.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced on Thursday that Manning, who is serving a 35-year sentence in military custody for leaking state secrets to the whistleblowing site WikiLeaks, was under investigation for three charges related to her 5 July suicide attempt: “resisting the force cell move team”, “prohibited property”, and “conduct which threatens”.
Manning confirmed through her lawyers in July that she was receiving medical care after having tried to take her own life.
If convicted of these new “administrative offenses”, she faces punishment that could include solitary confinement for the rest of her sentence, reclassification as a maximum-security prisoner, and an addition of nine years to her sentence. It might also negate her possibility of parole, according to the ACLU.
“It is deeply troubling that Chelsea is now being subjected to an investigation and possible punishment for her attempt to take her life,” ACLU staff attorney Chase Strangio said in a press release. “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.”
“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,” Strangio continued.
The US army public affairs division did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The investigation comes as Manning, who is a Guardian columnist, is fighting a legal battle to overcome her sentence, which she described as “unprecedented” and “grossly unfair” in an appeal filed in May.
She is also suing to be allowed to live according to her gender identification.
- In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255; Trans Lifeline runs a phone hotline staffed by trans people for trans people on 1 877 565 8860. In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email email@example.com. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here.