Published: Sat, May 18, 2019

Chelsea Manning sent back to jail for refusing to testify

Chelsea Manning sent back to jail for refusing to testify

A federal judge found former US soldier and WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning in contempt of court and ordered her back to jail on Thursday for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury, a law enforcement official and her legal team said.

Before her release, she was served with another subpoena requiring her to testify before a new grand jury, which is continuing to investigate WikiLeaks.

"I would rather starve to death than to change my opinion in this regard".

Manning has already served two months in jail but was released last week when that grand jury term expired.

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.

Chelsea Manning was hoping she could convince a judge to quash a fresh subpoena from a Virginia grand jury. The judge also ruled that she will be fined $500 per day after 30 days and $1,000 per day after 60 days.

The heavy-handed punishment betrays the growing frustration of federal prosecutors, for who this is a second attempt at making Manning testify.

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

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.

Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Manning's lawyer, told the press outside the courthouse following the trial that she expected "this sanction of further incarceration will be exactly as coercive as the previous sanction - which is to say, not at all".

Manning told Judge Anthony Trenga there would be no compliance with the subpoena.

Manning was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in prison under the Espionage Act, but her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama, and she was released in May 2017.

Manning said prosecutors had put her in an impossible position despite the Justice Department granting her immunity from self-incrimination. "It is telling that the United States has always been more concerned with the disclosure of those documents than with the damning substance of the disclosures".

Assange now faces extradition to the United States from the UK on a hacking charge for allegedly seeking to assist Manning to crack a password so she could remain anonymous on a military computer network.

"Manning holds the keys to the jailhouse door", U.S. Attorney Thomas Traxler argued during the proceedings.

She went on to say that the Trump administration was "obsessed with unwinding Obama's legacy, from health care to Chelsea's commutation".

The new grand jury subpoena appears to be related to the USA prosecution of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who was arrested last month and is now awaiting his extradition hearing in the UK.

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