JEDDAH (Reuters) - The U.S. military is considering options for the detention of a transgender soldier who is serving 35 years in prison for turning over secret files to WikiLeaks and has requested hormone therapy, including moving the private to a civilian prison, the Pentagon said on Wednesday.
The Associated Press on Wednesday reported that defense officials were trying to transfer Chelsea Manning, who seeks to live as a woman, to a civilian prison to facilitate that treatment.
"No decision to transfer Private Manning to a civilian detention facility has been made, and any such decision will, of course, properly balance the soldier's medical needs with our obligation to ensure Private Manning remains behind bars," Rear Admiral John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement.
Defense officials said that one option under consideration was transferring Manning to a civilian prison.
In April, a U.S. judge ruled that Manning, who had gone by the name Bradley, could legally use the name Chelsea. Manning was born as a man but identifies as a woman.
Manning is serving her sentence in all-male detention facilities at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
Kirby, in a statement issued to reporters during a visit by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to Saudi Arabia, also said that Hagel had approved a request from the U.S. Army to assess "potential treatment options for inmates diagnosed with gender dysphoria", which refers to individuals who experience discontent with their gender.
Last year, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for providing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks in the biggest breach of classified materials in U.S. history.
Manning has repeatedly stated her desire to live as a woman and has requested hormone replacement therapy in prison, but so far Army officials have denied those requests, and said that Manning will continue to be treated as a man despite the name change.
Manning worked as an intelligence analyst in Baghdad when she gave WikiLeaks the government material, which also included a 2007 video of a U.S. Apcache helicopter firing at suspected militants in Baghdad, killing two Reuters employees.
(Reporting by Missy Ryan; Editing by Alison Williams)