Chelsea Manning Jailed Again For Wikileaks Testimony Refusal

The former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (former Bradley Manning) has been sent back to jail at the Alexandria Detention Center for contempt of court.

This is the second time that Manning has been jailed for the same reason, but this sentence may last much longer than the previous one.

Earlier this month Manning, aged 31, had been briefly freed after she spent 62 days in prison for contempt of court when she refused in March to answer grand jury questions about an investigation into Wikileaks.

Jailed again

The term of that grand jury expired earlier this month and Manning was subsequently released.

But her freedom was to be short lived, as she expected to be jailed again this week because prior to her release she had been served with another subpoena to appear before a different grand jury this week.

And once again, Manning refused to testify before this new grand jury, and according to the Washington Post, she told a judge she’d rather “starve to death” than co-operate with prosecutors.

US District Judge Anthony Trenga then ordered her to be jailed at the Alexandria jail either until she agreed to testify, or until the grand jury’s term expires in 18 months.

The judge also imposed fines that will cost her $500 a day after 30 days, and $1,000 a day after 60 days.

Manning however has consistently refused to answer further questions about Wikileaks from investigators, as she said in the past that she already presented her testimony during her 2013 trial.

She herself told the judge directly: “I would rather starve to death than change my principles in this regard.”

“There’s nothing dishonourable in discharging your responsibility as a US citizen,” Judge Trenga reportedly told her.

Previous incarceration

Manning is no stranger to prison. She had been found guilty of leaking sensitive American government files while serving as a private in the US Army.

Those files from Manning were allegedly received by Julian Assange, who was then the editor-in-chief of Wikileaks, and the website went on to publish the documents.

For leaking those files, Manning was arrested in 2010 and spent seven years behind bars as part of a 35-year sentence, after she was found guilty of 20 charges related to the leaking of the largest stash of US state secrets in history.

As with her military imprisonment, Manning served some of her jail time in solitary confinement.

However Manning’s sentence was commuted in 2017 by then President Barack Obama, who said her sentence was “disproportionate” to her crimes.

Assange extradition

The legal troubles for Manning mirror that of Julian Assange, who earlier this month was sentenced to just under a year in jail (50 weeks) for breaching his bail conditions.

Assange in 2012 had fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge, central London, after he lost his final plea to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he had faced allegations of raping a woman and sexually molesting and coercing another in Stockholm in August 2010 – charges he always denied.

Swedish investigators have this week re-opened the rape case against Assange.

After a seven year stalemate Assange was arrested in April 2019, when British police entered the Ecuadorian Embassy and dragged him out.

Assange is currently fighting a US extradition request, after he indicted for computer hacking crimes, related to Manning’s data transfer of US secrets to a secure WikiLeaks portal.

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Tom Jowitt @TJowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

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