Chelsea Manning’s ACLU attorney, Chase Strangio, told “Democracy Now!” on Wednesday that the U.S. government is attempting to punish the convicted leaker after her July suicide attempt.

Strangio described the miserable conditions in which the government is holding Manning:

I think one of the big concerns right now is that these charges that she is facing could result in long-term solitary confinement for her. They could also result, as they did last summer in comparable charges, in the denial of important privileges like access to phones, access to writing materials, access to law library—the very things that Chelsea Manning uses to stay connected to the world. And those are the things, the human connection that people need to survive, that she needs to survive. And if she is forced into solitary confinement, which could be indefinite under the terms of her charges, that will be absolutely catastrophic to her mental health, and particularly at this moment, but it is for anybody, as the U.N. has repeatedly said, as doctors and other mental health providers have recognized. It is a completely inhumane form of punishment that is used far too often in our country. …

Chelsea is living under, you know, the constant surveillance and denial of care that is characteristic of prison for so many. She’s under an extra amount of scrutiny because she is high-profile. She is a transgender woman in a man’s facility. She is being denied healthcare related to her very well-documented gender dysphoria. And I think she reached this moment of feeling like the only agency that she had left was the agency to end her life. And so, that, you know, is a very sad and unfortunate moment for her, and one that represents, I think, the dire circumstances that so many people who are in prison and incarcerated in various ways are living under. And thankfully, you know, she is relieved to be alive. But it is terrifying to think that as she survives, the government is continuing to give her the message that they will enforce punishments against her, essentially, for living.

In a rare interview with Amnesty International conducted in late 2015 and published by The Guardian on Tuesday, Manning said, “it is very terrifying to face the government alone.”

When asked, “You are one person, and the military and the government are so powerful. Through all this, have you ever felt afraid?” Manning replied:

I am always afraid. I am still afraid of the power of government. A government can arrest you. It can imprison you. It can put out information about you that won’t get questioned by the public – everyone will just assume that what they are saying is true. Sometimes, a government can even kill you – with or without the benefit of a trial. Governments have so much power, and a single person often does not. It is very terrifying to face the government alone.

When prodded, she offered a particular:

It’s a very difficult feeling to describe. Not long after I was first detained by the military, I was taken to a prison camp in Kuwait, where I essentially lived in a cage inside of a tent. I didn’t have any access to the outside world. I couldn’t make phone calls. I didn’t get any mail. I had very limited access to my lawyers. There was no television or radio or newspapers. I lost the sense of where in the world I was. The military had total control over every aspect of my life. They controlled what information I had access to. They controlled when I ate and slept. They even controlled when I went to the bathroom. After several weeks, I didn’t know how long I had been there or how much longer I was going to be staying. It’s an overwhelmingly terrifying feeling. I became very, very sad. At one point, I even gave up on trying to live any more.

Asked how she tries to maintain her spirits, Manning replied:

I love reading the mail that I get from all over the world. I love talking on the phone with people I care about. I always feel so much better when people send me their warm love and strong words of support. I love staying active and engaged with the world. It is an amazing feeling!

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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