Chelsea Manning jailed for 'refusing to testify before grand jury' in Wikileaks case

Former intelligence officer tells judge she 'will accept whatever you bring upon me'

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 08 March 2019 16:58 GMT
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Chelsea Manning says she had 'responsibility to the public' to leak a trove of classified documents

Former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was jailed on Friday for contempt of court after refusing to testify before a grand jury.

Ms Manning had appeared in court on Wednesday but declined to answer questions in connection with what is believed to be the government's long-running investigation into Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.

The judge said she would be held in jail until she cooperates or the grand jury finishes its term.

It is unclear exactly why prosecutors want Ms Manning to testify, although her representatives say the questions she was asked concern the information she publically disclosed in 2010 through WikiLeaks.

She cited her first, fourth and sixth amendment rights and said she was “prepared to face the consequences of my refusal”. She said she had already given extensive answers in 2013 when she was convicted of espionage.

Ms Manning was also jailed in 2013 for other offences after contributing to more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

Former President Barack Obama, in his final days in office, commuted the final 28 years of Ms Manning’s 35-year sentence.

Her lawyers had asked that she be confined at home rather than in jail because of medical complications. But the judge said US officials could handle her medical care.

In her statement on Thursday, Ms Manning wrote, “The court may find me in contempt, and order me to jail.”

She continued: “Yesterday, I appeared before a secret grand jury after being given immunity for my testimony. All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 – answers I provided in extensive testimony during my court martial in 2013. I responded to each question with the following statement: ‘I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.”

In a brief statement after the hearing on Thursday, Ms Manning said she opposes the grand jury system as a matter of principle.

“Grand juries are terrible, to say the least,” she said, noting the rules prohibit her lawyers from accompanying her during her testimony. She said other rules were bent to suit prosecutors’ whims. She added: “The idea that there is such a thing as an independent grand jury is long gone.”

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Ms Manning – who had a dozen supporters at the courthouse carrying signs that read “Solidarity with Chelsea” and “defend Grand Jury Resistance” – said she does not know why her testimony is being sought.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters

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