- The Washington Times - Friday, September 9, 2016

Army Private Chelsea Manning, the convicted source of the biggest intelligence leak in U.S. military history, began a hunger strike Friday over what she described as “constant and overzealous administrative scrutiny by prison and military officials.”

Manning, 28, who is serving time in a federal prison in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, said in a statement released by her supporters that she will consume only water and prescription medicines starting Friday morning, and will forgo voluntarily cutting her hair.

The incarcerated soldier said her protest is aimed at prompting officials to recognize her need for treatment, especially with respect to gender dysphoria, the medically recognized condition of identifying with a gender opposite to one’s biological sex.

Manning publicly revealed herself as transgender in August 2013 the day after she was sentenced to 35 years in prison for convictions related to providing the website WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of military and State Dept. documents.

She legally changed her name from Bradley Manning the following year, and the Pentagon agreed in 2015 to begin providing Manning with hormone therapy while behind bars. She has remained incarcerated in an all-male prison, however, and is prevented from growing her hair out.

In a statement confirmed Friday as authentic by Manning’s attorney, she stated that her attempt to commit suicide in prison July 5 was driven by the lack of cares she’s received while behind bars. She has since been placed under investigation and risks being charged and sentenced to the possibility of indefinite solitary confinement for the failed attempt.

“I need help. I am not getting any,” she wrote in the statement. “I have asked for help time and time again for six years and through five separate confinement locations. My request has only been ignored, delayed, mocked, given trinkets and lip service by the prison, the military and this administration.

“Today, I have decided that I am no longer going to be bullied by this prison — or by anyone within the U.S. government,” Manning wrote. “I have asked for nothing but the dignity and respect — that I once actually believed would be provided for — afforded to any living human being. I am no longer asking. Now, I am demanding.”

Manning said she will continue to comply with all rules, regulations, laws and orders that don’t apply to eating food or grooming standards until “given minimum standards of dignity, respect and humanity.”

“Until I am shown dignity and respect as a human again, I shall endure this pain before me,” she wrote. “I am prepared for this mentally and emotionally. I expect that this ordeal will last for a long time. Quite possibly until my permanent incapacitation or death. I am ready for this. I need help. Please, give me help.

Prison officials in Fort Leavenworth deferred to the Office of the Army’s Chief of Public Affairs at the Pentagon when reached for comment Friday by Time magazine. The Department of Defense did not immediately offer a response, Time reported.

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