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Chelsea Manning recovering from suicide attempt while in jail for WikiLeaks trial, lawyer says

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)
March 12, 2020

Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst convicted for leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, is recovering from an attempted suicide attempt this week, Manning’s lawyers said.

Though Manning’s 2013 sentence for leaking to WikiLeaks was commuted, Manning has been in jail since May 2019 for refusing to testify against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Now, after ten months in jail for contempt of court, Manning has attempted suicide, her legal team wrote in a blog Wednesday.

“Chelsea Manning attempted to take her own life. She was taken to a hospital and is currently recovering,” her legal team said.

According to CNN, Alexandria, Va., Sheriff Dana Lawhorne also confirmed an incident involving Manning at the Alexandria jail, but provided few additional details.

Manning is set to appear before Judge Anthony Trenga on Friday on a motion to end the court’s civil contempt sanctions and win release from jail. Those sanctions stem from Manning’s decision since March 2019 to refuse to testify about her 2010 disclosures to WikiLeaks. Those pretrial sanctions have included a daily fine of $1,000.

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“In spite of those sanctions — which have so far included over a year of so-called “coercive” incarceration and nearly half a million dollars in threatened fines — she remains unwavering in her refusal to participate in a secret grand jury process that she sees as highly susceptible to abuse,” her legal team’s statement went on. “Ms. Manning has previously indicated that she will not betray her principles, even at risk of grave harm to herself.”

Though Manning was convicted in leaking to WikiLeaks, Assange has continued to maintain the secrecy of all of his sources and has never disavowed Manning.

Manning’s team filed a new motion in February requesting she be released, rather than compelled to testify.

“I have been separated from my loved ones, deprived of sunlight, and could not even attend my mother’s funeral,” Manning wrote in a letter to Judge Trenga, included in the petition. “It is easier to endure these hardships now than to cooperate to win back some comfort, and live the rest of my life knowing that I acted out of self-interest and not principle.”

In 2018, Manning had announced plans to run for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. In May of that year, Manning appeared to express suicidal ideations in a Twitter post. The since-deleted tweet showed someone’s feet standing on the edge of a building window ledge several stories high, overlooking a street with visible motor vehicle traffic. The tweet included the caption, “I’m sorry.”

A later Tweet from Manning’s account said “chelsea is safe. she is on the phone with friends, thanks everyone for your concern and please give her some space.”