Chelsea Manning: supporters demand release from solitary confinement

Manning held in isolation for 22 hours a day after being jailed for refusing to testify to grand jury investigating WikiLeaks

Supporters of Chelsea Manning have demanded her release from effective solitary confinement, in which she has been held for more than two weeks since being jailed for contempt of court.

“We condemn the solitary confinement that Chelsea Manning has been subjected to during her incarceration at William G Truesdale adult detention center,” a committee of supporters said in a statement on Saturday.

Manning has been held in administrative segregation, or “adseg”, with up to 22 hours each day spent in isolation, for the duration of her detention.

A law enforcement official disputed that Manning’s treatment constituted solitary confinement.

Manning was jailed on 8 March for refusing to testify before a Virginia grand jury investigating WikiLeaks, the transparency organization to which she leaked thousands of US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

She said she objected to the secrecy of the grand jury process and had revealed everything she knows at her court martial. After that process, Manning served seven years of a 35-year sentence that Barack Obama commuted in 2017.

In Virginia, US district judge Claude Hilton said Manning would be jailed until she testified or the grand jury concluded its work.

Manning’s supporters said: “The jail says keeping ‘high-profile’ prisoners in adseg is policy for the protection of all prisoners, but there is no reason to believe jail officials view Chelsea as either a target or a risk.

“If Truesdale wants to prioritize Chelsea’s health and welfare, as they consistently claim, then they should make sure she is able to have contact with other people in the jail.”

In a subsequent statement, city of Alexandria sheriff Dana Lawhorne said the accusations by Manning’s supporters were “not accurate or fair”. The sheriff said the facility does not have solitary confinement and administrative segregation inmates have access to visits, books and recreation.

Extended periods of solitary confinement “amount to torture”, according to the United Nations special rapporteur Juan Méndez, who has argued that “solitary confinement should be banned by states as a punishment or extortion technique”.

Manning’s supporters said: “Chelsea is a principled person, and she has made clear that while this kind of treatment will harm her, and will almost certainly leave lasting scars, it will never make her change her mind about cooperating with the grand jury”.


Jamiles Lartey in New Orleans

The GuardianTramp

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