Activists protesting new charges against Chelsea Manning delivered boxes of petition signatures to Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning on Wednesday morning, demanding improved prison conditions for the military whistleblower.
The petitions, which reportedly contained over 115,000 names, comes as a direct response to new charges leveled at Manning, a transgender woman, following a July 5th suicide attempt. In a statement made by the American Civil Liberties Union at the time, Manning's attorney Chase Strangio connected the attempted suicide with the ongoing struggles Manning has faced during her gender transition, which she has conducted completely behind bars:
The government has long been aware of Chelsea's distress associated with the denial of medical care related to her gender transition and yet delayed and denied the treatment recognized as necessary. Now, while Chelsea is suffering the darkest depression she has experienced since her arrest, the government is taking actions to punish her for that pain.
Manning, who currently serving a 35 year sentence for leaking classified military data to WikiLeaks in 2010, now faces the possibility of indefinite solitary confinement as a result of the attempt on her life.
The signatures, which were deposited in boxes outside Fanning's office on Wednesday, come from an aggregated batch of petitions created by a number of advocacy groups, including Fight for the Future, Demand Progress, and Care 2. They call for "adequate and humane treatment for both [Manning's] gender dysphoria and her suicide attempt."
In a statement provided by Fight for the Future, Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg said:
No harm has resulted from Chelsea Manning's disclosures. Not giving her the proper medical treatment and then adding on these charges for her suicide attempt would seem designed to break her down as a human being. These charges appear to me to be sadistic and outrageous.
Speaking with The Guardian, Ellsberg, a former military analyst who in 1971 released documents pertaining to the war in Vietnam, added that "I would like to see more Chelsea Mannings. Obviously the government wants the exact opposite."
This is not the first time tens of thousands of signatures have been collected on Manning's behalf. In August, 2015, 100,000 people signed a petition supporting Manning as she faced punishment for being in possession of contraband, including seemingly benign items such as magazines, and tube of toothpaste.
Speaking to The Guardian, Strangio predicted that charges stemming from Manning suicide attempt will likely be resolved at an administrative hearing, during which she will not have access to legal counsel, but will be allowed to appear, herself.