WASHINGTON — The Pentagon is trying to transfer convicted national security leaker Pvt. Chelsea Manning to a civilian prison where she can get treatment for a gender-identity condition. But her lawyer said Wednesday that a move from a military prison would make Manning choose between the treatment and her safety.
Two Pentagon officials told the Associated Press on Tuesday that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel gave the Army approval last month to try to work out a plan to transfer Manning from Fort Leavenworth, Kan., to a federal prison. Manning entered the Army as a man named Bradley.
The officials were not authorized to speak on the record and discussed the matter on condition of anonymity.
Manning has been diagnosed with gender dysphoria, the sense of being a woman in a man's body. Civilian prisons can provide treatment, but the Defense Department does not, and a transfer would allow her to see if she wants to complete the transformation to a woman.
Transgender people are not allowed to serve in the military.
Manning was convicted of sending classified documents to antisecrecy website WikiLeaks. The soldier has asked for hormone therapy and to be able to live as a woman.
Manning cannot be discharged from the service while serving her 35-year prison sentence.
Her lawyer, David Coombs, contended that civilian prisons are not as safe. In a statement, he said "it is common knowledge that the federal prison system cannot guarantee the safety and security of Chelsea in the way that the military prison system can."
Defense officials say the Army is expected to meet with the Justice Department this week to discuss the matter.