Chelsea Manning Faces Solitary Confinement

US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning could face punishment of indefinite solitary confinement for having an expired tube of toothpaste, an issue of Vanity Fair in which transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner describes her new life living openly as a woman, the US Senate report on torture and other “prohibited property” in her cell at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking US government cables to WikiLeaks. On Thursday, an Army spokesperson said it is committed to “a fair and equitable process” in Manning’s case, which is now pending before a disciplinary board.

TRANSCRIPT:

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: I also want to ask you about US Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. It was five years ago that she was arrested in Kuwait, charged with leaking classified information. Weeks later, WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of internal logs from the war in Afghanistan. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in jail.

Now lawyers for Manning say she could face punishment of indefinite solitary confinement for having an expired tube of toothpaste and an issue of Vanity Fair that features transgender celebrity athlete Caitlyn Jenner describing her new life as a woman, the US Senate report on torture and other “prohibited property” in her cell at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth. When The Guardian newspaper inquired why these publications are considered violations of prison rules, it received no response. Manning is also accused of, quote, “showing disrespect” for asking to see her lawyer in a discussion with a prison officer. Manning is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking US government cables to WikiLeaks. And on Thursday, an Army spokesperson said it’s committed to, quote, “a fair and equitable process” in Manning’s case, which is now pending before a disciplinary board.

Can you explain? An expired tube of toothpaste – she’s at Fort Leavenworth – and the Vanity Fair issue of Caitlyn Jenner?

CAREY SHENKMAN: It’s really outrageous that Manning is being threatened with what’s been recognized as torture – there’s an international consensus that indefinite solitary confinement is torture – for books and toothpaste. I mean, come on. This is so outrageous. Our hearts go out to Manning. As you pointed out, there’s a review on August 18th, and Manning has an outstanding defense team that can hopefully deal with this, but the fact that this is even being considered is completely unacceptable – and, I think, also confirms the fears all along of Assange being extradited to the United States. I mean, we saw during the court-martial of Chelsea Manning that there were continuous attempts to link Manning to Assange under a conspiracy theory. In fact, Assange’s name was brought up over 20 times in some arguments alone. So, we see this over and over. And Juan Méndez, the UN expert on torture, found that Manning was subject to inhumane treatment while in US custody, and Manning actually got a sentencing credit as a result of that.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: I mean, what are the rules, in terms of – especially of literature? I would assume that if literature comes into the prison, it has to be reviewed, if it comes in the mail, by prison authorities before Manning would even get this literature. So, do you know what the rules are?

CAREY SHENKMAN: I mean, based on the reports I’ve read, the Vanity Fair came through like normal mail. There’s no reason, it seemed, to do this. In fact, Manning was asking for a lawyer when these charges happened. So, it’s really unacceptable. This is, like I said –

AMY GOODMAN: Do you see these cases as intimately linked, the cases of Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning?

CAREY SHENKMAN: In the perception of the US government, absolutely. I mean, Manning is an alleged source of WikiLeaks, and one of the major theories in the Manning case was trying to link Assange to Manning. So we see, I think, based on what’s happening now with Manning and a risk of torture, Assange has every right to fear being extradited to the United States.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, Carey Shenkman, of course, we’ll continue to follow both of these cases. Carey Shenkman is a First Amendment and human rights lawyer, working along with Michael Ratner and the Center for Constitutional Rights, representing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

And that does it for our show. A very fond farewell to our beloved senior news producer Renée Feltz. Her humility, her brilliance, her dogged determination to unmask the truth have made Democracy Now! a better news organization. Renée, we look forward to future collaborations with you sitting at the table bringing us your invaluable reports.