-- Chelsea Manning faces solitary confinement at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, for charges of disrespect to corrections staff and disorderly conduct, military officials said today.
An inspection of her cell led to additional charges of possession of "prohibited property" that included the Vanity Fair issue with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover and an expired tube of toothpaste.
The transgender service member is serving a 35-year prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth following her conviction in 2013 for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to Wikileaks when serving an Army tour in Iraq.
Manning is an inmate in the general population at the detention facility that houses 465 convicted military personnel serving sentences of 10 years or more. Inmates in the general population can interact with other inmates and hold jobs at the facility, about 54 of them who have had disciplinary violations have been placed in a separate maximum security status that restricts their privileges and limits them to their cells for 23 hours of the day, and are allowed one hour of recreation to go outside for exercise. The military does not use the term solitary confinement.
Nancy Hollander, the attorney handling Manning’s appeal, told ABC News that Manning faces a disciplinary hearing on Aug. 18 that could lead to a maximum penalty of indefinite solitary confinement for four charges of disrespect, disorderly conduct, prohibited property and medicine misuse.
Hollander is concerned that prison authorities "are harassing Chelsea and punishing her for speaking out."
The charges stem from a July 2 incident at the prison’s dining facility involving Manning and a corrections specialist. According to a summary of the charge documents published on a website supporting Manning, the corrections officer told Manning “to be aware of her surroundings” after almost being hit by food that Manning had swept off a table.
In an ensuing verbal exchange Manning is described as interrupting the officer saying “you are accusing me,” "this interview is over” and “I want my lawyer."
An inspection of Manning’s cell a week later while he was "under administrative segregation pending investigation" discovered “prohibited property,” including reading materials and a “tube of anti-cavity toothpaste” that had an expiration date of April 9.
Tatjana Christian, an Army spokeswoman, said Manning "received a disciplinary report for alleged rules violations. The case has been processed and is currently pending a Disciplinary and Adjustment Board."
"Upon its completion, Manning will be informed of the outcome," Christian added. "Discipline and adjustment boards are a common practice in correctional systems to hold prisoners accountable to facility rules and adjudicate alleged violations within an administrative process. The Army remains committed to a fair and equitable process in the adjudication of administrative matters for all of its Soldiers."
A website supporting a petition to dismiss the charges against Manning lists the reading materials as the “Vanity Fair issue with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover, Advocate, OUT Magazine, Cosmopolitan issue with an interview of Chelsea, Transgender Studies Quarterly, novel about trans issues "A Safe Girl to Love," the book "Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy -- The Many Faces of Anonymous," the book "I Am Malala," five books by Robert Dorkin, legal documents including the Senate Torture Report, and the book "Hidden Qualities that Make Us Influential."
“Chelsea received all her reading material through regular prison channels so I can think of no reason it should now be considered a violation to have them in her cell,” Hollander said. “I am also concerned that she is charged with disrespect for asking for a lawyer.”
Hollander said that Manning is “very upset” about the new charges as that they are “distressing and make life more difficult than it already is for her.”
Hollander is particularly troubled by the fact that Manning's reading material was taken away from her.