Soon after Chelsea Manning prepared her statement for this year’s Aaron Swartz Day, her legal appeal team launched a #timeserved campaign (link to official commutation petition), asking President Obama to commute her 35 year sentence.
There’s a petition at Whitehouse.gov that needs 100,000 signatures by December 14th.
- She has already been in prison for almost 7 years.
- 11 months of that was in solitary confinement. (This was before she had ever been tried and convicted of any crimes.)
- Chelsea’s 11 months in solitary confinement was particularly brutal. 2 months was spent in 105 degree temperatures in complete darkness, in a cage in a tent *in Kuwait). (Yes, literally, a cage inside of a tent. In the dark for two months straight.
- For the next 9 months, spent in solitary confinement at Quantico, Virginia, she had to stare straight ahead at the wall all day. (Read this first hand account from Chelsea about her time in solitary confinement.
- Since that time, she has been incarcerated for another 6 years.
- This means that Chelsea has already served more time than any whistleblower in U.S. history.
She writes in her commutation statement that she decided to not accept a plea deal because she thought the court would sentence her fairly. (Alas, she made a mistake in doing so, as it obviously did not sentence her fairly.)
Just last month, after initially disappearing for a week, her lawyers announced that she had been placed in solitary confinement as punishment for her suicide attempt last July.
As soon as she was placed in solitary confinement again, it was too much for her, and she attempted to take her own life again. (The Guardian provides this excellent account of medical experts decrying the use of solitary confinement for this purpose.)
Chelsea has now been told that she will soon be charged for the second suicide attempt, and will most likely receive more solitary confinement as punishment for it.
How long can this go on? Indefinitely, apparently.
If President Obama doesn’t commute her sentence, there is nothing to stop this pattern from repeating.
Chase Strangio, Chelsea’s attorney for her ACLU case, has written a letter to President Obama asking him to commute Chelsea’s sentence. As he explains in the New York Times article, “I worry about the sustainability of her current conditions and her ability to keep fighting under these relentless abuses.”
Please sign the petition and help spread the word.
Chelsea’s medium post with her statement, from the application:
Chase’s Strangio, Chelsea’s ACLU attorney, writes a post to Obama