Chelsea Manning, the U.S. soldier sentenced to 35 years in prison for her role in the publication of a vast trove of classified information by the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, was hospitalized early Tuesday after what media reports characterized as a suicide attempt.
Manning, 28, was taken to the hospital and has since been returned to confinement, said Wayne Hall, an Army spokesman. He declined to discuss the circumstances of the incident, but CNN and TMZ reported Wednesday that the medical treatment was prompted by a suicide attempt, citing unnamed defense officials. TMZ reported that Manning attempted to hang herself, citing an unnamed source.
Manning’s lead attorney, Nancy Hollander, said in a statement that she was “shocked and outraged” that an official at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, where Manning is imprisoned, provided “confidential medical information” about Manning to the media but had not shared anything with her team.
“Despite the fact that they have reached out to the media, and that any other prison will connect an emergency call, the Army has told her lawyers that the earliest time that they will accommodate a call between her lawyers and Chelsea is Friday morning,” Hollander said. “We call on the Army to immediately connect Chelsea Manning to her lawyers and friends who care deeply about her well-being and are profoundly distressed by the complete lack of official communication about Chelsea’s current situation.”
Army officials at Fort Leavenworth referred questions to the Pentagon.
Manning was convicted in July 2013 of violating the Espionage Act and other crimes when she was still known as Bradley Manning. She transitioned from male to female after her conviction and has kept a relatively high profile while behind bars, writing opinion pieces for The Guardian and pressing for the right to receive hormone treatments while imprisoned.
Manning wrote about the U.S. military’s recent decision to repeal the ban on transgender troops in a piece published July 1, saying it was a necessary step toward protecting and recognizing the humanity of transgender people. But she also criticized the military’s plans, saying they fall short of what is needed.
In particular, Manning took issue with a new requirement that transgender people may serve so long as they are certified to be stable for 18 months after transitioning. The new plan has generally been greeted with optimism by repeal advocates, but Manning called it a misuse of established standards of medical care.
“What is the stability of gender?” Manning wrote. “Isn’t gender an inherently unstable concept — always being constrained by the various context and rules under which we live?”
Manning also questioned whether the new rules will apply to U.S. troops who are incarcerated.
“I am deeply concerned that like so many policies, the impact of this change won’t penetrate the prison walls,” she wrote. “What does it mean that the military will recognize our gender, unless and until we are arrested, and then what? This core identity is then stripped away and our birth assigned sex is imposed on us?”