Chelsea Manning refuses to testify in investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, sent back to jail for contempt

Chelsea Manning, who spent seven years in military prisons for leaking US secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010 and then two more months in an Alexandria, Virginia, jail this year on contempt charges, had said before the hearing that she would again refuse to testify.

Agence France-Presse May 17, 2019 09:35:46 IST
Chelsea Manning refuses to testify in investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, sent back to jail for contempt
  • According to The Washington Post, US District Court Judge Trenga sent Manning back to jail

  • He ordered a fine of $500 a day if she does not testify within 30 days

  • Manning has accused the government of seeking to revive her original court martial case

Washington: Former US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was ordered back to jail on Thursday for refusing to testify before a grand jury believed to be investigating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Andy Stepanian, a spokesman for Manning's legal team, said she had been remanded in custody by Judge Anthony Trenga for contempt of court after again refusing to provide testimony.

Manning, who spent seven years in military prisons for leaking US secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010 and then two more months in an Alexandria, Virginia, jail this year on contempt charges, had said before the hearing that she would again refuse to testify.

Chelsea Manning refuses to testify in investigation into Wikileaks founder Julian Assange sent back to jail for contempt

Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. AP

"I'm not going to comply with this grand jury," she told journalists outside the Alexandria courthouse before the hearing.

According to The Washington Post, US District Court Judge Trenga sent Manning back to jail.

He ordered a fine of $500 a day if she does not testify within 30 days, raising that to $1,000 a day if she does not testify within 60 days.

The newspaper quoted Manning as saying "the government cannot build a prison bad enough, cannot create a system worse than the idea that I would ever change my principles.

"I would rather starve to death than to change my opinions in this regard," she said. "I mean that quite literally."

The judge, the Post said, responded by telling Manning "There's nothing dishonorable in discharging your responsibility as a US citizen."

Manning has accused the government of seeking to revive her original court martial case, saying prosecutors were unhappy over her 2017 pardon by president Barack Obama.

"The goal here is really to relitigate the court martial," Manning said before the hearing. "They didn't like the outcome, I got out."

Manning, 31, was called early this year to testify to a grand jury, a panel investigating major crimes that operates in secrecy, about her work with Assange and WikiLeaks nine years ago.

She said the government was abusing the grand jury process and refused to testify, saying she had answered all the questions years before anyway.

A judge found her in contempt and on 8 March she was jailed indefinitely.

She was released last week when the grand jury's mandate expired, and was called to testify before a new one on Thursday which she said was seeking answers to the same set of questions.

While she was not at liberty to discuss the specifics of the investigation, she indicated that it also was a probe of Assange and WikiLeaks' actions in 2010.

The US Justice Department has asked Britain to extradite Assange to stand trial in the United States for "conspiracy" for advising Manning on breaking into a restricted US government computer.

Assange, now committed to a British prison for a year and also facing an extradition effort from Sweden, asserts that he is a journalist with the right to publish purloined secrets.

Manning, a transgender woman whom supporters call a whistleblower, said the new grand jury case is meaningless since the Justice Department already unveiled its charges against Assange.

"The case doesn't make sense, it's very bananas," she said.

"Ultimately this is an attempt to place me back into confinement."

Updated Date:

also read

WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning in suicide attempt; tweets that she is now 'safe'
World

WikiLeaks whistleblower Chelsea Manning in suicide attempt; tweets that she is now 'safe'

Imprisoned intelligence leaker Chelsea Manning has assured supporters that she is "glad to be alive" after a suicide attempt.

Chelsea Manning thanks Barack Obama for giving her chance, in first interview after release
World

Chelsea Manning thanks Barack Obama for giving her chance, in first interview after release

In her first interview since being released from a top-security US military prison, WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning says justice "has been served"

Obama commutes WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning’s sentence
World

Obama commutes WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning’s sentence

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday shortened the prison sentence of Chelsea Manning, the former US military analyst who was responsible for a 2010 leak of classified materials to anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, the biggest such breach in US history