Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify before grand jury in Virginia

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By Pete Williams and Elisha Fieldstadt

Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning was jailed on Friday after refusing to answer questions from a federal grand jury in Virginia looking into the release of documents to WikiLeaks.

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton told Manning that she would remain in federal custody “until she purges or the end of the life of the grand jury” a statement from her representatives said.

Earlier in the day, Manning told reporters that she was prepared to go to jail following the closed contempt hearing for her resistance to provide testimony because she doesn’t believe in the grand jury process.

On Wednesday, Manning appeared before the same grand jury, in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, but refused to answer any questions.

“I responded to each question with the following statement: ‘I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights,” Manning said in a statement.

“All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 — answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013,” the statement said.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking a trove of military intelligence records to the anti-secrecy website Wikileaks. Her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017 after seven years behind bars.

A day earlier, a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia denied a motion filed by Manning’s attorneys challenging a subpoena calling her to testify, according to her lawyers.

Manning told The Associated Press Tuesday that she didn’t know what case she was being called to testify about.

“I just know there were an awful lot of government lawyers there,” she said after the hearing in which her motion was denied.

“Grand juries are terrible, to say the least,” Manning, 31, added.

Manning’s support committee, Chelsea Resists!, called the grand jury system “dangerous and undemocratic.”

“Grand juries operate in secret, allowing the government to retaliate against activists and dissidents behind closed doors,” said a statement from the committee released by Manning’s lawyers.

“Donald Trump and his administration have publicly declared their disdain for Chelsea, and for President Obama’s decision to commute her sentence,” the Chelsea Resists! statement said. “Chelsea has stood by the testimony from her 2013 court-martial, and this subpoena serves no legitimate purpose. It is a punitive effort to reverse Obama’s legacy, exposing Chelsea to legal hardship and possible imprisonment.”

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