Chelsea Manning Could Wind Up in Solitary Confinement Over Toothpaste

Famed whistleblower Chelsea Manning is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence. According to her attorneys, the former Army private is now facing new charges that could land her in indefinite solitary confinement. The crime? Possession of toothpaste and a magazine.

According to ACLU attorney Chase Strangio, the whistleblower imprisoned for her part leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, is now facing new charges. Filed by military prison officials, authorities are accusing Manning of possession of "prohibited materials."

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If you’re first thought went to standard prison contraband like nail files and shivs, forget it. Manning could potentially face “indefinite solitary confinement” because of possessing an old tube of toothpaste and a copy of Vanity Fair.

"Here Chelsea is at risk of losing various support networks simply because she had an expired tube of toothpaste, the Vanity Fair magazine that featured Caitlyn Jenner and requested a lawyer when she felt she was being accused of misconduct," Strangio told Buzzfeed News.

According to a list of charges obtained by activist group Fight for the Future, possession of the anti-cavity toothpaste falls under a charge of "medicine misuse." The list also includes a charge of "disrespect."

"On 2 July 2015, during dinner chow, inmate Manning was approached by [a correctional specialist] to inform inmate Manning to be aware of her surroundings because [the correctional specialist] was almost hit with some food inmate Manning swept off the table."

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In other words, sweeping crumbs off a table.

"Given the material that were confiscated, it is concerning that the military and [the prison] might be taking action for the purpose of chilling Chelsea’s speech or even with the goal of silencing her altogether by placing her in solitary," Strangio said.

"Hopefully with public scrutiny the prison will respond by dismissing these charges and ensuring that she is not unfairly targeted based on her activism, her identity, and her pending lawsuit."

Supporters have already organized a petition to raise awareness about these new charges.

Prison officials have not responded for comment.

Since being convicted under the Espionage Act, Manning has maintained a vocal presence. She started a Twitter account which quickly gained thousands of followers and has joined the Guardian as a contributing opinion writer.

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In May, Manning also drafted a 31-page proposal for legislation which would protect journalists from the US government.

"We need to create a media ‘shield’ law with teeth and substance that creates an effective federal privilege for communications between a journalist and her sources," Manning wrote for the Guardian. "The privilege should be in effect unless the government can prove with clear and convincing evidence that very clear and dangerous circumstances should merit an exception."

"When the public lacks even the most fundamental access to what its governments and militaries are doing in their names," she added, "then they cease to be involved in the act of citizenship."

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