U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sentenced to 14 days in solitary confinement — punishment the U.N. recognizes as torture — for charges related to her suicide attempt in July, and for possession of an unmarked book in her cell.
Half of her 14-day punishment was “suspended,” meaning it can be reinstated later, so Manning now faces seven days in isolation. It is unclear when Manning’s sentence will begin.
According to a dictated statement from Manning, once she receives notification of her punishment in writing, she will have 15 days to appeal it.
At a four-hour disciplinary hearing Thursday, at which Manning was not allowed a lawyer, Manning was found guilty of “conduct that threatens,” broadly defined as “any conduct which interferes with the orderly running, safety, good order and discipline, or security of the facility.”
According to a column she wrote in The Guardian, Manning was not allowed to consult with a lawyer while reviewing nearly 100 pages of evidence against her, which she could only examine for an hour the week before.
She was also found guilty of possessing “prohibited property” in her cell — an unmarked copy of “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy” — a book about the hacker group and activist movement Anonymous. Manning was acquitted of “resisting the force cell move team,” possibly because she was unconscious when the team arrived.
After being informed of the charges in July, Manning learned that she was facing possible indefinite solitary confinement.
Manning is a transgender woman, but the Army has repeatedly forced her to cut her hair and refused to allow her to receive gender-affirming surgery, despite her psychologist formally recommending it in April 2016.
Earlier this month, after Manning mounted a hunger strike to demand the surgery, the Army relented after five days. She will be allowed to consult with a surgeon, but will still be forced to cut her hair.
Since her arrival in prison, Manning has endured one form of mistreatment after another — including denial of recommended medical care, repeated threats of solitary confinement, and punishment for frivolous charges, like having an expired tube of toothpaste in her cell.
In 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in military prison for sending hundreds of thousands of documents about the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks. The documents revealed a far higher number of civilian casualties than the Department of Defense admitted, and included a video of Apache attack helicopters gunning down two journalists in Baghdad.
Chase Strangio, Manning’s lawyer with the ACLU, told The Intercept by email that he was afraid for his client’s well being.
“I am deeply concerned about Chelsea’s well-being after being sentenced to serve time in solitary confinement,” said Strangio. “In July she reached a breaking point and felt that the only agency she had left was to take her life. Thankfully she survived, but the message is clear with yesterday’s decision that the government is invested in punishing her for surviving.”
Strangio added: “I am also concerned about what it says about us as a society that we would tolerate our systems of incarceration punishing people with the cruelty of solitary confinement for attempting to end their life.”
[Disclosure: First Look Media Works, Inc., publisher of The Intercept, made a $50,000 matching-fund donation to Chelsea Manning’s legal defense fund through its Press Freedom Litigation Fund, and Glenn Greenwald, a founding editor of The Intercept, donated $10,000.]