Public Support Saved Chelsea Manning From Solitary, Says Attorney: It ‘Will Not Silence Her’

Chelsea Manning, who earlier this year became the first military prisoner to get hormone treatment while incarcerated, has been spared solitary confinement as punishment for breaking a few jail rules.

Manning had been threatened with solitary, but will instead face three weeks of limitations on certain privileges, such as access to the gym, prison library, and outdoors, Reuters reported.

On Tuesday, Chelsea’s punishment was handed out by a disciplinary board at Fort Leavenworth military prison, where she was accused of breaking rules while under administrative segregation.

“Chelsea’s ridiculous convictions today will not silence her,” said Manning’s attorney, Nancy Hollander, on Twitter. “And we will fight even harder in her appeal to overturn all her convictions.”

Those broken rules: having expired toothpaste, being disrespectful, pushing food on the floor, and possessing various transgender and homosexual-themed reading materials. Chelsea was found with the issue of Vanity Fair which featured Caitlyn Jenner on the cover, as well as books and novels about LGBT issues.

According to Manning’s attorney, Chase Strangio, with the American Civil Liberties Union, an online petition and public support helped her client avoid indefinite solitary confinement. About 100,000 people signed such petitions, and they were delivered to the Army by digital rights group Fight for the Future before the board made its decision, the Christian Science Monitor added.

“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.”

The military insisted that Chelsea’s hearing was “common practice,” and is enacted against any prisoner who breaks facility rules, the Washington Post added.

Chelsea, who changed her name from Bradley after she was arrested, was an intelligence analyst and is responsible for the biggest breach of classified documents in military history. Manning is serving 35 years for releasing 700,000 videos, diplomatic cables, and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks.

Manning’s supporters accused the military of trying to keep her quiet, and Strangio said her client’s punishment for breaking prison rules sets a dangerous precedent.

“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 we are watching and scrutinizing what happens to her behind prison walls. It was no doubt this support that kept her out of solitary confinement. But the fact that Chelsea had to face today’s 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.”

[Photo Courtesy Twitter]