Attorney credits public with sparing Chelsea Manning solitary confinement

Chelsea Manning who was facing a maximum punishment of indefinite solitary confinement for violating prison rules, received three weeks of recreational restrictions at prison.

US Army/AP/File
Pfc. Chelsea Manning poses for a photo wearing a wig and lipstick, in this undated file photo provided by the US Army. Ms. Manning, who is currently serving a 35-year sentence for espionage and other offenses, will be subject to three weeks of recreational restrictions for violating prison rules.

Convicted whistleblower Chelsea Manning was found guilty of breaking prison rules on Tuesday, a crime that could have landed her in solitary confinement. Instead, she will be subject to three weeks of recreational restrictions. 

According to the former intelligence analyst's attorney, Chase Strangio, it was public support that kept her out of solitary.

Some 100,000 people signed a petition in support of Ms. Manning, which was delivered to the US Army during Tuesday's hearing by digital rights group Fight for the Future, according to Mr. Strangio.

"When I spoke to Chelsea earlier today she wanted to convey the message to supporters that she is so thankful for the thousands of people from around the world who let the government know that we are watching and scrutinizing what happens to her behind prison walls," Strangio told the Associated Press.

Manning could have faced indefinite solitary confinement for possession of prohibited property including a copy of Vanity Fair with Caitlyn Jenner on the cover and a novel about transgender issues.

However on Tuesday she received 21 days of recreational restrictions, including limited access to the gym, the library, and the outdoors.

Manning is currently serving a 35-year sentence at the military penitentiary at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for a 2013 conviction of espionage and other offenses relating to the release of more than 700,000 classified documents to Wikileaks in 2010.

Formerly known as Bradley Manning, the former analyst announced in August 2013 that she is identifies as female and wants to be referred to as Chelsea.

In February 2015, Manning became the first military prisoner granted permission to receive hormone therapy, a considerable shift for the US military, as The Christian Science Monitor reported at the time.

Mara Kiesling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told the Monitor that she has witnessed openness to thinking about the issue in new ways at lower levels.

“We had a phone call here a few weeks ago from a commanding officer, saying, 'We have our first openly trans person in our unit, and we want to do right by them, and we don’t understand everything, so help us,' ” she says. “It’s a fairly common employer call.”

This report contains material from the Associated Press.

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