Chelsea Manning Goes Back To Jail After Refusing To Testify

Nellie Chapman
May 18, 2019

Fresh off a 62-day incarceration for defying a grand jury subpoena, Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst and anti-secrecy activist, was remanded again Thursday afternoon after a federal judge held her in contempt of court.

"I would rather starve to death than change my opinions in that regard", Manning told Trenga, reiterating her opposition to the secretive grand jury process. In calling for her release, her lawyers argued that the civil contempt of court statute used to jail her was for coercive purposes, and would not serve its goal because Manning would never testify.

Manning had formally asked the court to release her earlier this month, saying "nothing will convince me to testify", according to documents filed in the Eastern District of Virginia court. She was released May 9 when the grand jury's term expired, but was issued a second subpoena before the current grand jury.

After 60 days, the fine will increase to $1,000.

"Simply put, Ms. Manning has not spent enough time in jail to arrive at the time" where she could argue that she can't be coerced into testifying, prosecutor Thomas Traxler said.

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Manning claims that grand juries - the proceedings of which are kept secret - can be abused to unfairly compel testimony with little transparency. Assange has been charged with conspiring with Manning to break into military computers to help her transmit a vast trove of USA state secrets to the open information organization in 2010.

Federal Judge Anthony Trenga rejected two motions submitted by Manning's lawyers to quash the subpoena and disclose any evidence of unlawful electronic surveillance by the government. She will be charged $500 a day after 30 days if she does not comply with the subpoena. "It is telling that the United States has always been more concerned with the disclosure of those documents than with the damning substance of the disclosures".

The judge, the Post said, responded by telling Manning "There's nothing dishonorable in discharging your responsibility as a U.S. citizen". She said the isolation caused her "extraordinary pain" and that she was sometimes in a "dissociative stupor". Later, she added "when I arrive at the court house this coming Thursday, what happened last time will occur again".

We "never once made this about anything other than obtaining immunized testimony in furtherance of an investigation", he said, adding that "all we want is her to truthfully answer questions as our constitutional republic requires of our citizens".

Former President Barack Obama later reduced Manning's sentence and she was released in May 2017. For her part in the hacking, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for violating the Espionage Act. Swedish prosecutors have reopened an inquiry into rape allegations against him and are seeking to extradite Assange to Sweden.

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