Chelsea Manning, the soldier and Guardian columnist , has been denied access to a prison legal library days before a crucial hearing at which she will represent herself against charges including possession of unapproved reading material, according to a message posted to her official Twitter account at the weekend.
The hearing is part of a legal process that could result in indefinite solitary confinement for Manning, for reported violations that also include storing a tube of expired toothpaste in her military prison cell.
The army has scheduled a hearing on the violations for Tuesday at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where Manning is being held. She was given a 35-year sentence for having been the source of the vast leak of US state secrets to WikiLeaks.
“Prison staff are now denying me access to the law library @ scheduled times – w/only 2 days until my board,” read the tweet , which was posted by supporters in contact with the prisoner.
A call to the US disciplinary barracks at Fort Leavenworth was not immediately returned.
Earlier this week, Chase Strangio, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union who is handling Manning’s legal dispute with the US military over her health treatment in prison as a transgender woman, told the Guardian it seemed Manning was being unfairly targeted.
“Chelsea has a growing voice in the public discussion,” Stangio said, “and it would not surprise me were these charges connected to who she is.”
A petition calling on the military the drop charges against Manning for the reported prison infractions has gained 64,000 signatures, said Evan Greer , campaign director of the activist nonprofit Fight for the Future , one of four groups circulating the petition.
The groups plan to deliver the signatures to John McHugh, the secretary of the army, in Washington on Tuesday morning, in advance of Manning’s hearing.
“This is a hearing where she’s facing a disciplinary board that has the power to essentially remand her to indefinite solitary confinement,” Greer told the Guardian. “She has to face this board without her attorneys present. And now she’s being denied access to the resources to prepare a proper defense.
“Those things being denied paint a really grim picture of what it looks like the military’s trying to do to her, and should arouse suspicion from the public and from journalists.”
Manning has told supporters that property confiscated from her cell included the memoir I Am Malala by Nobel peace prize laureate Malala Yousafzai, the Caitlyn Jenner issue of Vanity Fair, a novel featuring trans women called A Safe Girl to Love and the LGBT publication Out Magazine.
Also confiscated was a copy of the US Senate report on torture .
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015