Chelsea Manning, a former US soldier imprisoned for leaking classified documents, has gone on a hunger strike to protest her mistreatment at the Fort Leavenworth [official website] facility in Kansas where she has been imprisoned since her conviction in military court in 2013. Manning was convicted of leaking 700,000 classified government documents to WikiLeaks [advocacy website] and has been serving a 35-year sentence. Manning stated that she started the hunger strike [AP report] because all her requests so far for better treatment have been ignored. An American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] attorney representing Manning stated her intention to continue the hunger strike until “minimum standards of dignity, respect and humanity” are complied with. Manning has said she will not voluntarily consume anything except prescription medication and water, and that she is prepared for the possibility of dying.
According to the ACLU, Manning was being investigated [JURIST report] in July for charges in relation to a suicide attempt at the facility. At the time, ACLU Staff Attorney Chase Strangio issued a statement in which he was deeply critical of the Army’s handling of Manning, in particular the “denial of medical care related to her gender transition” despite “the treatment [being] recognized as necessary.” The report [press release] went on to say that the Army continued to deny necessary medical care to Manning, including medical treatment following her suicide attempt. Manning’s trial [JURIST op-ed] in 2013 and the subsequent litigation that followed has garnered much debate. In May Manning appealed [JURIST report] her 35-year prison sentence. In 2013 Manning filed for a presidential pardon of the 35-year sentence [JURIST reports]. The sentence came a month after she was found guilty [JURIST report] of violating the Espionage Act, but was acquitted of the more serious charge of “aiding the enemy.” The judge had raised the burden of proof [JURIST report] in order to require the government to prove that Manning “knowingly” aided al Qaeda. Manning pleaded guilty [JURIST report] to 10 of the 22 charges against her for providing classified materials to Wikileaks.