Transgender Wikileaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning has attempted suicide for a second time, shortly after beginning to serve time in solitary detention to punish her for her previous suicide attempt.
In a strange twist, Manning is also alleging that intelligence personnel staged a bizarre prison attack while she was in solitary in order to psychologically torment her and induce her to commit a crime.
Lawyers for Manning, a former intelligence analyst who is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking US military secrets to Wikileaks, confirmed the suicide attempt on Friday, DW reports. They also reported that Manning had endured “unimaginable abuses” while in government custody.
“After her July suicide attempt, I watched her begin to piece her life and spirit back together, only to have that shattered by the disciplinary proceedings brought against her, and then the unannounced initiation of her term of punishment last month,” attorney Chase Strangio Strangio wrote in a statement.
“She has repeatedly been punished for trying to survive and now is being repeatedly punished for trying to die.”
Psychologists and suicide prevention experts were shocked that the military punished Chelsea’s suicide attempt with time in solitary confinement, the Guardian reports. Even short time spent in solitary confinement can dramatically increase the risk of suicide and can be torturous for people with mental health issues.
Think what you will about Chelsea Manning (I think she is a hero): if she's suicidal, she doesn't belong in prison, let alone in solitary!! https://t.co/eYPPuPoKYm— Amir (@amiraminiMD) November 4, 2016
Chelsea is also alleging that four people impersonating guards staged a fake prison attack the night of October 10, while she in solitary detention. In a four-page action request to the Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, she asked officials to investigate allegations of “malicious activities with an intent to psychologically harm, abusive discretion by intelligence community officials, and potential criminal actions by intelligence community personnel.”
Chelsea Manning Again Attempts Suicide, Makes Claim of Strange Attack via /r/FreeChelsea https://t.co/THXauLcRmf— ChelseaMQueerFriends (@QFChelsea) November 5, 2016
Her statement alleges that the imposters staged an attack on the prison during her time in a special observation unit called Alpha Tier where she was placed in solitary detention. During the all-night attack, Chelsea claims she heard sounds indicating that the attackers were shooting and torturing her cellblock’s actual guards.
“From approximately 6pm on October 10, 2016 to approximately 7am on October 11, 2016 at least four (4) unidentifiable intelligence community personnel, consisting of at least one (1) female (pseudonym ‘Jessica’) and three (3) males (one with the pseudonym ‘Ramsey’) planned and executed an elaborate simulated terrorist attack, prison breakout, kidnapping, and hostage situation, with the intent: a) to create fear, helplessness, terror, and severe psychological distress; b) to facilitate, entice, and coerce a segregated inmate in an isolated cell within a maximum security military prison, specifically the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, to engage in serious criminal activity.”
The statement alleges that several usual inmates were moved out of her housing area in the days proceeding the attack without explanation. Manning then wrote that several guards began discussing events that were supposedly taking place, including a cyber attack that was rumored to be taking place and a Twitter discussion that Chelsea was going to be “blown up.”
Manning alleges hearing a “commotion” after shift change, hearing someone shout “Gooooo Chelseee” and guards activating their PALS alarm system that signifies an emergency situation. The report then recounts hearing guards fighting and gun shots going off, then voices telling someone to bind and gag the other guards. Manning alleges witnessing one guard being tied up with zip ties by the female attacker.
Chelsea went on to describe a long, strange course of events where the attackers tried to get her to put on a wig, sunglasses, and other disguises and seemed to be killing and torturing guards, then cleaning it up. She wrote that she hid from the attackers in a dark corner of her cell and repeatedly challenged them, saying she would not cooperate with them and did not believe they were real guards. The bizarre events allegedly continued until the regular guards arrived at 6 a.m. and she wrote that everything returned to normal other than smelling the strong smell of a cleaning fluid like Pine-Sol being used throughout the area.
She has told members of her support network that she continued to see two of the attackers who posed as guards around the prison until October 27.
An Army spokesman has denied that the events took place, the New York Times reports. Manning’s attorney confirmed that she had described the strange events to him in phone calls but said he couldn’t comment on the alleged incidents because “I don’t understand them.”
Chelsea has a long history of psychological issues that were witnessed during to her time in Iraq. Supervisors have reported incidents such as her going catatonic and being found curled in the fetal position with a knife, but they said they did not pull her from duty because her intelligence work was valuable.
Solitary confinement can have severe effects on mental health. Inmates who spend time in solitary confinement often experience hallucinations, paranoia, intense agitation and confusion after being put in solitary confinement, especially if they are already psychologically fragile.
We should be freaking out at:— Jude Fleming (@flemingjude) November 5, 2016
Chelsea Manning being punished with solitary
Disappearing for 7 days
2nd suicide attempt
Chelsea Manning’s 35-year sentence for her involvement in Wikileaks is the longest ever imposed for revealing government secrets. Manning, who was born male but identifies as female, is being held in a male prison wing at Leavenworth.
[Featured Image by U.S. Army/AP Images]