Chelsea Manning Sent Back To Jail For Refusing To Testify Before Grand Jury
Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was sent back to jail Thursday after refusing for a second time to comply with a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
"Facing jail again, potentially today, doesn't change my stance," Manning told reporters in Alexandria, Va., before U.S. District Judge Anthony Trenga said she was in contempt of court.
"I will not cooperate with this or any other grand jury," Manning insisted. "So it doesn't matter what it is or what the case is, I'm just not going to comply or cooperate."
Manning said prosecutors had put her in an impossible position despite the Justice Department granting her immunity from self-incrimination.
In addition to being held in custody for the duration of the grand jury's investigation or until Manning testifies, the judge ordered her to be fined $500 every day that she is in custody after 30 days and $1,000 every day in custody after 60 days, according to a statement by Manning's lawyers.
Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a lawyer representing Manning, spoke of her disappointment. "It is telling that the United States has always been more concerned with the disclosure of those [leaked] documents than with their damning substance," she told reporters.
She went on to say that the Trump administration was "obsessed with unwinding Obama's legacy, from health care to Chelsea's commutation."
Manning was released from a military prison in Kansas in 2017, serving about seven years of what was once a 35-year prison term. Former President Barack Obama shortened her sentence before leaving office.
In 2013, Manning pleaded guilty to leaking a trove of military reports and State Department cables to WikiLeaks.
Problems resurfaced for Manning in March after she refused to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and was jailed. In April, Assange was booted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, then arrested by British police and charged by the U.S. Justice Department.
An indictment alleges that he conspired with Manning to access classified documents, helping her to crack a computer password.
At the time, Manning's attorneys argued that the Justice Department's filed charges against Assange demonstrated that prosecutors did not actually need Manning to provide evidence.
Assange remains in England and has vowed to fight extradition to the United States. Swedish prosecutors have reopened an inquiry into rape allegations against him and are seeking to extradite Assange to Sweden.
Manning was released last week after a grand jury's term expired. She was in jail for more than 60 days and 28 of them were spent in solitary confinement conditions, according to her lawyers.
But her freedom was short-lived. Prosecutors at the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Virginia quickly issued another subpoena for her to appear before a different grand jury panel "for [the] same questions," according to a tweet posted on her account last week.
U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger told reporters on Thursday that prosecutors had "bent over backwards" to meet Manning's medical needs and schedule in the hopes of receiving her testimony.
"The only thing that is being asked of her is to come answer questions truthfully," he said. "As someone who received the incredible gift of a commutation, who is literally given 28 years of her life back, she now refuses to simply answer questions as part of our constitutional criminal justice process."