'I Will Not Comply': Chelsea Manning Sent Back to Prison Over Grand Jury Refusal

Chelsea Manning won’t be bullied by the federal government, she told supporters on Friday.

In a move her defenders called “an outrageous government overreach and absolutely inhumane,” Manning was remanded to federal prison for contempt on Friday morning due to her refusal to testify in a secret grand jury hearing Wednesday.

“I will not comply with this, or any grand jury,” said Manning. “Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated ethical objections to the grand jury system.”

The decision to throw Manning in prison by U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton came after Manning refused to cooperate with prosecutors in a secretive grand jury process widely believed to be aimed at the media outlet Wikileaks, Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, or both.

Manning, a former Army infantry soldier whose leaking of documents to Wikileaks in 2010 netted her a 35 year sentence in 2010 that was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017, was subpoenaed by the grand jury in February. Manning made clear in a statement prior to the court date that she would not cooperate with the grand jury. 

“I have nothing to contribute to this case,” said Manning, “and I resent being forced to endanger myself by participating in this predatory practice.”

During the closed door hearing on Wednesday, Manning was asked about her contacts with Wikileaks and other issues. 

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Manning told NBC News said she 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.”

She pointed out that the questions were superfluous and that the answer prosecutors were looking for could be found elsewhere.

“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,” Manning said.

On Friday, that got her put in prison until she either capitulates to the government’s demands or the grand jury ends. Manning’s attorney, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, told reporters that her client expected that outcome. 

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“Chelsea is a tremendously courageous person and this outcome was not unexpected,” said Meltzer-Cohen, “but this an appealable order.” 

Reaction to Manning’s imprisonment from supporters praised the whistleblower’s courage and her commitment to her principles while condemning the government for detaining Manning. 

“Manning is a whistleblower, a truth teller, and a hero,” said Chip Gibbons, policy and legislative counsel for civil rights advocacy group Defending Rights & Dissent, in a statement. “Yet, for making the American people aware of crimes committed by their government in their name the US government has repeatedly persecuted her. “

“If we lived in a just world she’d be considered a national hero,” said writer Dante Douglas.

“Disgusting,” said journalist Glenn Greenwald, adding that the prosecution of Wikileaks was “a major threat to press freedom.”

Writer Sean T. Collins noted the fact that Manning’s sentence simply being commuted may have contributed to the current situation. 

In her statement, Manning said that she would continue to hold fast to the principles praised by her supporters. 

“I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to,” said Manning, “particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech.”

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