[JURIST] Chelsea Manning ended her five-day hunger strike [JURIST report] Wednesday after the Army agreed [ACLU press release] to allow her to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Manning, a former military private serving a 35-year prison sentence on an espionage conviction after leaking classified files to Wikileaks, said in a statement to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] that she is “unendingly relieved that the military is finally doing the right thing. I applaud them for that. This is all that I wanted—for them to let me be me.”
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 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] began in 2013 and the subsequent litigationhas garnered much debate. In May Manning appealed [JURIST report] her 35-year prison sentence. In 2013 Manning filed for a presidential pardon [JURIST report] of the 35-year sentence. 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.