Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify to grand jury in WikiLeaks case
The former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been jailed for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.
US district judge Claude Hilton held Manning in contempt of court and ordered her jailed on Friday after a brief hearing in Alexandria, Virginia, where Manning confirmed she has no intention of testifying. She told the judge she “will accept whatever you bring upon me”.
Manning says she is refusing to testify because she objects to the secrecy of the grand jury process, and already revealed everything she knows at her court martial.
The judge said she will remain jailed until she testifies or until the grand jury concludes its work.
Manning turned over a vast trove of military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, an anti-secrecy website which made them public in 2010. She served seven years of a 35-year military sentence, and was freed after former president Barack Obama commuted her sentence.
Manning’s lawyers had asked that she be placed under home confinement instead of jail, because of medical and safety complications she faces as a transgender woman.
Her lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, called jailing Manning an act of cruelty. She argued Manning’s one-bedroom apartment would be sufficient confinement.
“Obviously prison is a terrible place,” Meltzer-Cohen said. “I don’t see the purpose to incarcerate people.”
The judge said US marshals can handle Manning’s medical care.
In a statement before Friday’s hearing, she said she invoked her first, fourth and sixth amendment protections when she appeared before the grand jury in Alexandria on Wednesday. She said she already answered every substantive question during her 2013 court-martial, and was prepared to face the consequences of refusing to answer again.
“In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available,” she said. “My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.”
Prosecutor Tracy McCormick said Manning could easily end her incarceration by simply following the law and testifying.
“We hope she changes her mind now,” McCormick said.
Outside the courthouse, about 10 protesters rallied in support of a figure they call a brave whistleblower.
The justice department has been investigating WikiLeaks for some time. Last year, prosecutors in Alexandria inadvertently disclosed that the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is facing unspecified, sealed criminal charges in the district.
Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid arrest on contempt of court charges in the UK .
WikiLeaks is an important part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election. Investigators are probing whether Donald Trump’s campaign knew Russian hackers were going to give WikiLeaks emails stolen from Democratic organizations, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
“This is America, 2019: A secret trial against a source for refusing to testify against a journalist,” WikiLeaks tweeted on Thursday in response to news of that Manning was facing a contempt hearing. Most of the hearing was held behind closed doors, but the court was open to the public for the ruling.
Associated Press contributed to this report