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Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify about WikiLeaks

Chelsea Manning (Tim Travers Hawkins/Released)
March 08, 2019

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been taken into custody for contempt after refusing to testify before a grand jury in the case involving Wikileaks.

A brief hearing was held on Friday morning, during which Manning said she would refuse to testify, telling the judge she “will accept whatever you bring upon me,” the Associated Press reported.

Manning was jailed by the orders of U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton, who said Manning will remain in jail until she agrees to testify or when the grand jury completes its process.

Manning cited her opposition to grand juries for her refusal to testify, in addition to claiming she already shared all relevant knowledge during her court martial.

On Tuesday, Manning told reporters, “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’s lawyers requested that Judge Hilton authorize home confinement in lieu of jail time, citing medical reasons. However, Hilton refused the request and said Manning’s medical care will be carried out by the U.S. Marshals.

On Thursday, Manning said on Twitter, “tomorrow I’m facing a sealed contempt hearing for refusing to testify at a secret grand jury over my 2010 disclosures.”

Manning also released a statement, saying:

On Friday, I will return to federal court in Alexandria, Virginia for a closed contempt hearing. A judge will consider the legal grounds for my refusal to answer questions in front of a grand jury. The court may find me in contempt, and order me to jail.

Yesterday, I appeared before a secret grand jury after being given immunity for my testimony. All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 – answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013. I responded to each question with the following statement: ‘I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.’

In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.

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.”

Manning, formerly known as “Bradly,” 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.

Manning was sentenced in 2013 and transitioned shortly after imprisonment.

She 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.