Military prison authorities are allegedly denying whistleblower Chelsea Manning access to the facility's legal library, just two days before a disciplinary board hearing that will decide whether she is placed in solitary confinement for what her supporters and lawyers say are innocuous offenses—like possession of a tube of expired toothpaste.
As Common Dreams reported, the Chelsea Manning Support Network revealed last week that prison authorities are using trumped up charges—including "medicine misuse" and "prohibited property"—to silence Manning, who has become a Guardian columnist and outspoken advocate for transgender, privacy, and prisoners' rights during her incarceration.
The disciplinary board hearing, scheduled for Tuesday, will take place behind closed doors, despite Manning's request that the proceedings be made public.
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Manning called supporters over the weekend to report the latest development. Those supporters, in turn, used Manning's Twitter account to publicize the allegation:
Prison staff are now denying me access to the law library @ scheduled times--w/only 2 days until my board
— Chelsea Manning (@xychelsea) August 16, 2015
"The fact that Chelsea is now being denied basic access to the prison legal library in order to prepare her defense underscores the urgent need for the public to have access to Chelsea’s hearing to ensure she is treated fairly," said Evan Greer of digital rights group Fight for the Future, which has launched an online petition calling for the charges against Manning to be dropped.
"Chelsea is not entitled to legal representation during the hearing, so will be representing herself," Greer explained in an emailed statement. "Being denied access to the legal library will impede her ability to do so."