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Chelsea Manning Convicted on New Charges

Chelsea Manning, the transgendered former US Army intelligence analyst serving life in prison for leaking state secrets, called supporters from prison to inform them that the military court has found her guilty of four charges, which include possession of LGBTQ reading material like the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair, and having a tube of expired toothpaste in her cell.

However, the court did not assign the feared penalty of solitary confinement.

Instead, she received 21 days of recreational restrictions, excluding her from time in the gym, library and outdoors. But now that the convictions are on her record, they can be cited in future hearings concerning parole or clemency. Manning said that she expects the convictions to delay her transition to minimum security custody status by years.

“When I spoke to Chelsea earlier today she wanted to convey the message to supporters that she is so thankful for the thousands of people from around the world who let the government know that we are watching and scrutinizing what happens to her behind prison walls,” said Chase Strangio, Manning’s attorney at the ACLU. “It was no doubt this support that kept her out of solitary confinement.”

A petition for leniency initiated by digital rights group Fight for the Future and supported by RootsAction.org, Demand Progress and CodePink drew 100,000 signatures of support leading up to the hearing.

Manning maintains, via her social media accounts and calls to supporters, that she’s done nothing to warrant the hearing other than speak out on the treatment of prisoners and her struggle as a trans woman behind bars. She also said that the whole thing started when she complained that military correctional staff denied her access to the prison legal library. During the closed disciplinary hearing, Manning was required to present her own defense—the ACLU said that she’s been denied an attorney as punishment for unruly behavior.

“The fact that Chelsea had to face [the] four-hour Disciplinary Board without counsel, and will now be punished for daring to share her voice, sets a concerning precedent for the remaining decades of her incarceration,” said Strangio. “Not only does this punishment mean the immediate loss of library and recreation for Chelsea, but she also will carry these infractions through her parole and clemency process and will be held longer in the more restrictive custody where she is now incarcerated. No one should have to face the lingering threat of solitary confinement for reading and writing about the conditions we encounter in the world. Chelsea’s voice is critical to our public discourse about government accountability and trans Justice and we can only preserve it if we stay vigilant in our advocacy on her behalf.” 

Manning is serving a lifetime sentence for treason (on a host of charges ranging from communicating national defense information to an unauthorized source, and aiding the enemy), following a courtroom confession back in 2013, when she was still Pfc. Bradley Manning.

 In 2009 and 2010, Manning smuggled out several SD disks with reams of classified information, including contents of Significant Actions files, or SigActs, which detail military actions on the ground in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Manning said in the confession that the motivations for betraying US secrets involve human rights and opposition to the way the wars were carried out.

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