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Chelsea Manning forced to testify before grand jury in WikiLeaks probe

Chelsea Manning (Tim Travers Hawkins/Released)
March 06, 2019

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning will have to testify before a grand jury for an investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a U.S. district judge ruled Tuesday.

Manning, now 31, said Tuesday she stands by her testimony from 2011, when she was convicted of the largest leak of classified documents in U.S. history, and that she doesn’t know why she is being called by the government to testify now, some eight years later.

“Grand juries are terrible tools. The idea that there is an independent grand jury is long gone; it’s run by a prosecutor. […] There is no adversarial process… I am generally opposed to the existence of a grand jury,” Manning said outside the courthouse Tuesday.

Manning is the transgender former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who leaked more than 700,000 classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, making it the largest leak in United States history.

District Judge Claude Hilton also denied Manning’s motion to unseal the proceedings on Tuesday.

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“There was an awful lot of government attorneys in there,” she noted, adding that, “We didn’t learn anything. […] I can only speculate.”

WikiLeaks issued a statement on Tuesday in response to Manning being forced to testify, tweeting, “A dark day for journalism. Forcing a source to testify against a journalist for publishing true information is an extreme normally only seen in the world’s most authoritarian states.”

It had been revealed in the past that Assange faces charges, although the exact charges remain unknown. However, anonymous officials have told the Washington Post that the charges stem from events prior to 2016, and not hacks that Special Counsel Robert Mueller is investigating, it reported.

Manning served seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by former President Barack Obama in January 2017, just days before he left office. Manning was released from prison in May 2017.

Manning, who entered an all-male military prison as “Bradley,” announced he was transgender immediately after his sentencing in 2013.

When the military denied Manning’s request for hormones, Manning tried to commit suicide twice.

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The then-Army intelligence analyst leaked hundreds of thousands of government documents to WikiLeaks because she believed she had a responsibility to the public, she has said. Manning did not think releasing nearly three-quarters of a million documents would threaten national security.

Manning had filed to run for U.S. Senate in Maryland last year, according to Federal Election Commission (FEC) filings dated Jan. 11, 2018.