The US government has jailed Chelsea Manning in its attempt to get at WikiLeaks

A picture of Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange
Bryan Wall

A court in the US has sent Chelsea Manning back to jail. The court detained her for refusing to testify against Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. She had previously served nearly seven years in prison for leaking documents to WikiLeaks about American actions in Iraq. In 2017, Barack Obama commuted her sentence. At the time he said, “justice has been served”.

The grand jury system

Manning announced she had received an order to give evidence in front of a grand jury. In response, her support group Chelsea Resists! released a statement saying:

By serving Chelsea Manning with a grand jury subpoena, the government is attempting once again to punish an outspoken whistleblower for her historic disclosures. We stand with Chelsea in support of her refusal to participate in this repressive and undemocratic process.

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It explained that:

Grand juries are notoriously mired in secrecy, and have historically been used to silence and retaliate against political activists.

Continue reading below...

After Manning’s first appearance in front of the grand jury, she released a statement. She said she responded to each question by saying she “object[ed]” to it. And because of this she “refuse[d] to answer”.

The price for resistance

But now the US government has sent Manning back to jail. She wrote:

Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated objections to the grand jury system.

Manning also said she, “stand[s] by my previous public testimony”. Because of this she, “will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to”.

An attack on journalism

Many have reacted to the latest news with anger. Jeremy Scahill wrote:

WikiLeaks called it an attack on journalism:

The Freedom of the Press Foundation echoed this:

Natasha Lennard of the Intercept said Manning’s actions are “historic”:

Journalist Murtaza Mohammad Hussain had this to say:

Human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson also expressed concern:

And whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said Manning is a hero:

More detention

Manning’s support group said the court’s decision is, “pointless, punitive, and cruel”. It also insisted:

Chelsea has already served prison time for standing up against government secrecy and revealing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And now:

she will not turn tail and allow this shadowy grand jury to eclipse her legacy of speaking truth to power.

Manning will be kept in jail until she agrees to testify against Assange and WikiLeaks. Or she could be held until the grand jury finishes its work. This means she could be locked up for 18 months. Manning has already paid more than most for revealing the truth. And now she appears to be paying again for standing up for basic freedoms.

Featured Image via Wikimedia – Tim Travers Hawkins / Flickr – David G Silvers

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