WASHINGTON � Chelsea Manning tried to commit suicide last month as she was starting a week of solitary confinement at the prison barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., her punishment for a previous attempt to end her life in July.
Ms. Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who is serving a 35-year sentence for leaking archives of secret documents to WikiLeaks, disclosed the attempted suicide, which took place Oct. 4, in a statement she dictated over the phone to a member of her volunteer support network. She asked that it be sent this week to The New York Times, according to members of the network who want to keep their identities private.
Chase Strangio, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer representing Ms. Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, confirmed the attempt, which raised new questions about the military�s handling of the troubled soldier, dating to when she was permitted to deploy to Iraq and kept at her post in a secure facility despite signs of erratic behavior.
During Ms. Manning�s trial in 2013, testimony showed that she had been deteriorating, mentally and emotionally, during the period when she downloaded the documents and sent them to WikiLeaks. Then known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, she was struggling with gender dysphoria under conditions of extraordinary stress and isolation while deployed to the Iraq war zone. At that time, military rules made being openly gay a ground for discharge without the college tuition benefits that were her prime motive for enlistment. Mr. Strangio said his client has endured a long series of �demoralizing and destabilizing assaults on her health and her humanity,� adding: �I worry about the sustainability of her current conditions and her ability to keep fighting under these relentless abuses.� Mr. Strangio, who is representing Ms. Manning in a lawsuit accusing the military of refusing to adequately treat her gender dysphoria, had predicted that putting Ms. Manning in solitary confinement could exacerbate her problems.
A support network member said Thursday that Ms. Manning had been informed by the Army that it would hold another disciplinary hearing on the second attempted suicide and that she possibly faced new punishment. An Army spokesman said he was unable to comment or answer any questions about matters covered by medical information privacy rules.
In her four-page statement, Ms. Manning said she tried to kill herself on the first night of her week in solitary detention, which she was given no warning was about to begin. She was then placed on suicide watch and transferred to a special observation unit, called Alpha Tier, where she continued to be held in solitary confinement, it said.
Most of her statement was devoted to a detailed account of a bizarre sequence of events she said took place several days later.
On the night of Oct. 10, according to her statement, four people impersonating guards conducted an hourslong attack on the prison, during which she said she heard sounds indicating that the attackers were shooting and torturing her cellblock�s actual guards.
These attackers tried to induce Ms. Manning to escape, she said in her statement. Instead, as the night unfolded, she hid in the corner of her cell, telling the impostors she knew they were not actual guards, it said.
At 6 a.m. on Oct. 11, a regular shift of guards familiar to Ms. Manning arrived, and �everything returned to normal, except that several correctional specialists were deep cleaning the entirety of Alpha tier with Pine Sol and bleach,� the statement concluded. Chelsea Manning’s support network provided The New York Times with a copy of a complaint from her addressed to the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General. The Army spokesman denied those events had taken place. Mr. Strangio said that Ms. Manning had described them to him in phone calls and that he �couldn�t comment on any of these experiences because I don�t understand them.�
He added, �I am going to visit her later this month due to continuous concerns that she is not getting the health care she needs.�Ms. Manning has also filed a complaint with the Office of the Intelligence Community Inspector General asking for an investigation into the incident, on Oct. 17. She said she believes it was an intelligence operation intended to torment her psychologically and induce her to commit a crime.