Former U.S. Army Private Chelsea Manning was hospitalized on Tuesday after what is believed to be a suicide attempt, Army officials told CNN. Manning was taken to a local hospital near the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks (USDB), a men’s maximum-security prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where she is currently being housed as she serves out a 35-year prison sentence.
A U.S. Army spokesman confirmed to CNN that Manning had been taken to the hospital “during the early hours of July 5th,” but was later released and returned to the barracks. That spokesman also said that officials “continue to monitor the inmate’s condition.”
A separate official told CNN that the hospitalization was for what is believed to be a suicide attempt. But Manning’s legal team has been unable to confirm whether that is true. Nancy Hollander, the lead attorney for Manning’s defense team, issued a statement blasting Army officials for revealing personal medical information to the press without notifying her legal team of her status.
“We’re shocked and outraged that an official at Leavenworth contacted the press with private confidential medical information about Chelsea Manning yet no one at the Army has given a shred of information to her legal team,” Hollander said.
“I had a privileged call scheduled with Chelsea at 2 p.m. Leavenworth time yesterday, after the Army has now said she was hospitalized, but the Army gave the excuse — which I now believe to be an outright lie — that the call could not be connected although my team was waiting by the phone,” Hollander continued. “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. 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.”
Manning rose to prominence after she was convicted for releasing more than 700,000 government files containing sensitive information to the online government watchdog site Wikileaks, in what was one of the largest leaks of classified documents in American history. Her lawyers have insisted that she was acting as a “whistleblower” in releasing videos, diplomatic cables and other information relating mostly to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have since appealed her conviction, arguing it is much harsher than most other sentences for people who have disclosed classified information.
Since arriving at the USDB, Manning and her lawyers have been engaged in a back-and-forth with the Army and the U.S. Department of Defense over whether she has been able to receive treatment for her gender dysphoria. Initially, the Department of Defense refused to provide Manning with treatment, prompting her to sue then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and other high-ranking officials.
The government settled the lawsuit, agreeing to allow Manning to receive hormone therapy, speech therapy and cosmetics. But it refused to allow her to grow out her hair, instead demanding that she comply with regulations for male prisoners requiring hair no more than two inches in length. Manning and her lawyers subsequently filed another lawsuit, arguing that growing her hair is part of embracing her identity as a woman, which is part of her treatment for gender dysphoria.
This article was updated to include remarks from Nancy Hollander, lead attorney for Manning’s defense team.
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