Published: Sat, May 18, 2019
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Chelsea Manning Sent Back to Jail for Refusing to Testify

Chelsea Manning Sent Back to Jail for Refusing to Testify

Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been sent to jail - again - for refusing to testify to a grand jury.

Representatives for Manning had previously said she was kept in her cell for 22 hours a day, arguing that such solitary confinement threatened her health and amounted to "torture".

Manning had formally asked the court to release her earlier this month, saying "nothing will convince me to testify", according to documents filed in the Eastern District of Virginia court.

Manning's attorneys attempted to challenge the subpoena during a sealed hearing at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria today, but Trenga said he was not persuaded by their arguments. "I would rather starve to death than to change my opinion in this regard", Manning told Judge Trenga during the public portion of Thursday's hearing.

After almost seven years behind bars, Manning had her sentence commuted by President Obama, and was a free woman, for a while.

In a move press freedom advocates and progressive critics decried as an "outrageous" and "unprecedented" escalation of a prolonged government harassment campaign, a federal judge on Thursday ordered U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning back to jail for refusing to testify before a secretive grand jury and imposed a $500 fine for every day she is in custody after 30 days.

But Judge Anthony Trenga ordered her back inside until she testifies - or until the new grand jury term expires in 18 months. She was released May 9 when the grand jury's term expired, but was issued a second subpoena before the current grand jury.

If she continued to refuse to testify after 60 days the fine would go up to $US1,000 a day, a law enforcement official and a spokesman for her attorneys said.

Rowley added that the jailing of Manning is either illegal retaliation by the Trump administration, "or the case against Julian Assange is just that weak that they absolutely need Chelsea Manning's testimony in order to firm up these specious charges".

Manning gained prominence when she was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for the unauthorized disclosure of classified materials made public by WikiLeaks in 2010.

"I think that this ultimately the goal here is to relitigate the court martial from my perspective". Both U.S. and Swedish authorities are seeking his extradition. Former President Barack Obama shortened her sentence before leaving office. Manning says she would rather die.

United States 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.

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".

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