For Immediate Release
Chelsea Manning Supporters to Deliver 75,000 Signatures to Army Ahead of Tuesday Hearing
WikiLeaks whistleblower Manning faces possible indefinite solitary confinement for minor “infractions”, was denied access to prison legal library
WASHINGTON - Advocacy groups supporting imprisoned WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning plan to deliver a petition signed by more than 75,000 people to the Army Liason office tomorrow morning, Tuesday, August 18th, at 11:00 am at Rayburn House Building Room B325. Supporters are available to speak to media before and after the delivery. For press interviews on the ground, please call Medea Benjamin at 415-235-6517.
The petition at FreeChelsea.com was initiated by digital rights group Fight for the Future and supported by RootsAction.org, Demand Progress, and CodePink. It calls for the U.S. military to drop the new charges against Chelsea, and demands that her disciplinary hearing on Tuesday be open to the press and the public.
Chelsea faces possible indefinite solitary confinement, which is widely recognized as a form of torture, for four “charges,” which include possession of LGBTQ reading material like the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair, and having a tube of expired toothpaste in her cell. The charges were first revealed at FreeChelsea.com, and Manning has since posted the original charging documents to her twitter account here and here. She has also posted the complete list of confiscated reading materials here.
On Saturday, Chelsea called supporters to alert them that military correctional staff denied her access to the prison legal library. This development comes just two days before she must present a defense (without her lawyers present) before the disciplinary board that could sentence her to potentially indefinite solitary confinement.
Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s attorney at the ACLU, said: “During the five years she has been incarcerated Chelsea has had to endure horrific and, at times, plainly unconstitutional conditions of confinement. She now faces the threat of further dehumanization because she allegedly disrespected an officer when requesting an attorney and had in her possession various books and magazines that she used to educate herself and inform her public and political voice. I am heartened to see the outpouring of support for her in the face of these new threats to her safety and security. This support can break down the isolation of her incarceration and sends the message to the government that the public is watching and standing by her as she fights for her freedom and her voice.”
Evan Greer, Campaign Director of Fight for the Future, said: “The U.S. government has a terrifying track record of using imprisonment and torture to silence free speech and dissenting voices. They’ve tortured Chelsea Manning before and now they’re threatening to do it again, without any semblance of due process. Perhaps the military thought that now that Chelsea is behind bars she’s been forgotten, but the tens of thousands who signed this petition are proving them wrong. Chelsea Manning is a hero and the whole world is watching the U.S. government’s deplorable treatment of whistleblowers, transgender people, and prison inmates in general.”
Nancy Hollander, one of Chelsea’s criminal defense attorneys, said: “Chelsea is facing serious repercussions and punishment if these charges are upheld, yet the prison has denied her the right to legal counsel, even legal counsel at her own expense. Now we have learned the prison authorities have denied her the use of the prison library to prepare for her hearing. The whole system is rigged against her. She cannot have a lawyer to assist her; she cannot prepare her own defense; and the hearing will be secret. This harassment and abuse must end and we are grateful for the support from the public to demand justice for Chelsea Manning.”
Sara Cederberg, Campaign Director of Demand Progress, said: "The charges against Chelsea Manning set a dangerous precedent for anyone who exercises their civil liberties to speak out against the abuses of our government. Long-term solitary confinement is a form of torture, and no one deserves this cruel and unusual psychological punishment. Today, and every day, thousands of Demand Progress members are standing with Chelsea, democracy and free speech."
David Swanson, Campaign Coordinator at RootsAction.org, said: “"Our petition demanding relief from this latest injustice for Manning has been the fastest-starting petition we've ever had, and it's full of eloquent comments from thousands of people who by all rights should have been past the point of outrage overload. Here is a straightforward case of a whistleblower of the sort that candidate Obama in 2008 said he would reward, and she's being punished not only unjustly but in violation of laws back at least to the Eighth Amendment. President Obama has long claimed to have ended torture. The U.S. military in effect is threatening to torture a young woman for having the wrong toothpaste and magazine."
Nancy Mancias, of the peace group CODEPINK, said: "The recent charges are inappropriate, extreme and ridiculous, Chelsea Manning has done a great service by leaking US war crimes in Iraq. Manning should have a right to legal counsel when requested, and threatening to her isolate from community is inhumane."
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