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Chelsea Manning released from jail after 10 months

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, has been released from jail.

Federal judge Judge Anthony Trenga of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia ordered Manning’s release after being held for 10 months on a contempt of court charge for her refusal to testify against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

“The Court finds that Ms. Manning’s appearance before the Grand Jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose,” the court ruling read.

Although Manning is released, she is now responsible for $256,000 in fines that accrued at a rate of $500 for each day she remained in contempt of court for the first 30 days, and $1,000 per day after 60 days.

Manning was set to appear before Judge Trenga on Friday on a motion to end the court’s civil contempt fines and argue her release from jail, however, that appearance has been canceled and the fines rendered due immediately.

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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,” Manning’s legal team had written in a statement on Wednesday. “Ms. Manning has previously indicated that she will not betray her principles, even at risk of grave harm to herself.”

Manning’s 2013 sentence of 35 years for leaking thousands of documents to WikiLeaks was commuted by former President Barack Obama, but Manning has been in and out of jail for her refusal to testify before a grand jury.

The court’s ruling comes days after Manning attempted suicide.

“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’s team had 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.”

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.