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Chelsea Manning vows to never testify in WikiLeaks case, demands release from jail

Chelsea Manning arriving for the 22nd Annual OUT100 Celebration Gala at Altman Building in New York on November 9, 2017. (Dennis Van Tine/Abaca Press/TNS)
May 08, 2019

Whistle-blower and former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has filed a new court measure insisting she be released because she has no plans of ever testifying in the WikiLeaks case.

Federal law permits a witness to be jailed on contempt charges if the incarceration is likely to coerce the witness to testify, but Manning’s legal team insists that she won’t be testifying even after two months of incarceration, the Associated Press reported Tuesday.

“I can — without any hesitation — state that nothing that will convince me to testify before this or any other grand jury for that matter. This experience so far only proves my long held belief that grand juries are simply outdated tools used by the federal government to harass and disrupt political opponents and activists in fishing expeditions,” Manning wrote in an eight-page statement accompanying the legal motion.

“At this point, given the sacrifices she has already made, her strong principles, her strong and growing support community, and the disgrace attendant to her capitulation, it is inconceivable that Chelsea Manning will ever change her mind about her refusal to cooperate with the grand jury,” her lawyers wrote in the motion.

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If a witness remains incarcerated after being deemed “un-coercible” then confinement is no longer considered coercive, instead becoming punitive and violating federal law.

“Since Ms. Manning is not going to agree to give testimony before the grand jury, she argues, her confinement has exceeded its permissible scope, and she must be released,” Manning’s lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, said in a statement to Manning’s Sparrow Media.

Manning said that the incarceration and its inadequate medical care has caused physical problems in connection with her gender reassignment surgery and subsequent care.

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit rejected Manning’s appeal and request for bail, deciding that she must stay in jail for contempt charges.

Manning was jailed on March 8 after refusing to testify before a grand jury in a case involving WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, and has been held in the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia.

Manning refused to testify after insisting the government spied on her ahead of her scheduled grand jury testimony. Questions based on information gathered from surveillance can be legally refused.

Additionally, she cited her opposition to grand juries as her refusal to testify, in addition to claiming she already shared all relevant knowledge during her court-martial. She also claimed that answering the questions violated her Constitutional rights.

WikiLeaks’ Assange was arrested in April by British officials in London on a U.S. indictment that accuses Assange of conspiring with Manning.

Manning reportedly communicated with Assange – and even utilized his password-cracking expertise – to breach Pentagon computers, bypassing user profiles and collecting more than 700,000 sensitive U.S. military documents eventually released by WikiLeaks.

Manning was convicted and served out 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.