- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 13, 2015

Attorneys for Chelsea Manning, formerly US Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, say the WikiLeaks source faces indefinite solitary confinement as a result of new charges being brought by officials at the military barracks where she is serving a 35-year prison sentence.

Pvt. Manning’s lawyers this week that the former Army intelligence analyst is being charged with multiple counts, including disrespect of an officer and possession of contraband, and faces the possibility of “solitary confinement for an indefinite period of time” pending the results of an upcoming hearing.

Legal representatives and supporters of the soldier, who was sentenced in 2013 for crimes related to her role in disclosing secret government documents to WikiLeaks, said that Manning’s most recent ordeal began during a July 2 confrontation with a corrections specialist during dinner. They said that Manning had been accused of sweeping food off of her table and onto the dining hall floor, and that when she was reprimanded by authorities she acted in a “contemptuous manner,” according to officials, and asked to speak with her lawyer.

Manning was placed in administrative segregation sometime later while the incident was under investigation, her legal reps said, and on July 9 was charged again for possessing prohibited books and magazine, as well as an expired tube of toothpaste.

The American Civil LIberties Union, which is representing Manning while she’s incarcerated in Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, told the Washington Times that the search of her cell occurred within 48 hours of the military’s decision to place the soldier on administrative segregation.

A pre-charge sheet from the Ft. Leavenworth Disciplinary Barracks provided by the inmate’s legal team to the Times confirms the existence of an investigation and lists the contraband that was recovered during a sweep of her cell.

The 23-item list of prohibited items that the Army alleges Pvt. Manning unlawfully had at the time of the search includes the expired toothpaste tube, the Vanity Fair issue published last month featuring Caitlyn Jenner on its cover, a May 2015 edition of Cosmo in which the soldier was interviewed, a copy of the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on torture, and “Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous,” a 2014 book by McGill University Prof. Gabriella Coleman concerning political hacktivism and Internet culture, among others. 

Dr. Coleman told the Times on Thursday that she is “deeply honored” that her book had reached Manning, who she credits as an inspiration for the ethnography, but is “disturbed and distressed” to hear of the soldier’s situation.

“Since when is reading material a crime?” Dr. Coleman asked the Times.

Chase Strangio, an attorney with the ACLU, said in a statement that the military’s actions have “the potential to chill Chelsea’s speech and silence her altogether.”

“We are hopeful that the prison will respond by dismissing these charges and ensuring that she is not unfairly targeted based on her activism, her identity or her pending lawsuit,” the lawyer said.

Pvt. Manning, 27, was convicted in 2013 for crimes committed during her service in the military in which she supplied materials from the Departments of State and Defense to WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy website, that were published on the Web. She was demoted from private first class at sentencing that year, and soon after identified herself as a transwoman and successfully pursued a name change to Chelsea Manning.

The Army did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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