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Chelsea Manning back in jail for contempt

May 17, 2019

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sent back to jail over her refusal to testify before a grand jury. The former US military intelligence analyst was just released from jail last week, held on similar charges.

Chelsea Manning speaks with reporters, after arriving at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/C. Owen

Chelsea Manning was ordered to be returned to jail on Thursday, just a week after she was freed following two months in custody.

Manning — who had been subpoenaed to appear before another grand jury this week — was remanded in custody by Judge Anthony Trenga after refusing to provide testimony.

The whistleblower was released from the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia last Thursday, after 62 days in confinement on contempt of court charges.

It is believed that she had once again refused to testify.

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

The US government has accused WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of conspiring with Manning to leak a trove of information to the whistleblower website in 2010, including State Department cables and military videos.

Point of principle

US prosecutors are seeking the extradition of Assange from the UK, where he is serving a 50-week jail term for skipping bail, to face charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

Although it's unclear why federal prosecutors want her to appear, Manning's representatives say she was questioned over the release of information from that time.

Manning claims that grand juries — the proceedings of which are kept secret — can be abused to unfairly compel testimony with little transparency.

Read more: WikiLeaks and Julian Assange: The never-ending story

In a statement at the time she was taken into custody, Manning said she "will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech."

Manning was court-martialed and convicted of espionage in 2013, and subsequently sentenced to 35 years in prison.

She was released in 2017 when President Barack Obama commuted the final 28 years of her sentence.

rc/cmk (AFP, Reuters)

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