The military could punish imprisoned whistleblower Chelsea Manning for attempting suicide earlier this month, her lawyers said today.
Manning, 28, received a military letter on Thursday notifying her that she’s under investigation for three alleged offenses that could put her in solitary confinement indefinitely. An Army employee told Manning that the investigation stemmed from the former intelligence analyst’s July 5 suicide attempt in the Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, barracks, her attorneys said in a statement.
Manning, a transgender woman in a prison for men, is serving a 35-year sentence for releasing a trove of classified documents about American diplomatic and military actions to WikiLeaks in 2010. Her lawyers worry that she’s not getting adequate care behind bars.
“She called me in tears when she got this information. She did not sound good,” ACLU attorney Chase Strangio said to The Huffington Post. “These charges are adding to her sense of anxiety. Her big fear is formal isolation. She relies on access to phones and written communication. If that were cut off, I’d be even more worried.”
Manning remains in an observation unit at the barracks, Strangio said.
Military police are investigating her for allegedly possessing prohibited property, “conduct which threatens,” and “resisting” staff that entered her cell, according to the charge sheet that Manning dictated to a supporter over the phone.
The charges are baffling, Strangio said, because investigators did not provide any specific details of alleged wrongdoing. Manning has no recollection of the events in her cell the evening that she tried to take her own life, according to Strangio, and was unconscious when staff entered to check on her.
The military could also punish Manning with an additional nine years in medium security and by denying her parole eligibility, the ACLU said in a statement.
The disciplinary process for this investigation is different than for a criminal offense. For instance, Manning does not have a right to have an attorney present during any questioning, Strangio said.
”My reaction to everything that’s transpired in the past month is to be completely concerned for her well-being and care,” Strangio said.
The U.S. Army did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post’s requests for comment.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.
This story has been revised based on information from the ACLU.