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
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.
It explained that:
Grand juries are notoriously mired in secrecy, and have historically been used to silence and retaliate against political activists.
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”.
tomorrow i’m facing a sealed contempt hearing for refusing to testify at a secret grand jury over my 2010 disclosures
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) March 7, 2019
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”.
** Chelsea was taken into custody today for resisting a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia
Chelsea provided the following statement: pic.twitter.com/tWjEOFyhYn
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) March 8, 2019
An attack on journalism
Many have reacted to the latest news with anger. Jeremy Scahill wrote:
this is utterly shameful https://t.co/frsbfxy7ao
— jeremy scahill (@jeremyscahill) March 7, 2019
WikiLeaks called it an attack on journalism:
Whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been placed in jail to coerce her to testify against Julian Assange.
Whistleblowers are now being forced to testify against journalists. A new angle in the attack on media freedom.
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 8, 2019
The Freedom of the Press Foundation echoed this:
Horrible: Whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been sent to jail for sticking up for press freedom and refusing to testify at a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.
— Freedom of the Press (@FreedomofPress) March 8, 2019
Natasha Lennard of the Intercept said Manning’s actions are “historic”:
#ChelseaManning has been remanded into federal custody, without charge or conviction, for refusing to comply with a grand jury. Here's some background to clarify why her resistance, like so many of her historic actions, is righteous and worthy of support https://t.co/TScO852uqt
— Natasha Lennard (@natashalennard) March 8, 2019
Journalist Murtaza Mohammad Hussain had this to say:
Chelsea Manning is back in the news. This is a reminder that she provided one of the only unfiltered glimpses into the nature of the U.S. war in Iraq, a video of laughing U.S. soldiers gunning down Reuters journalists and a family with children in Baghdad: https://t.co/427OTsHhkG
— Murtaza Mohammad Hussain (@MazMHussain) March 8, 2019
Human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson also expressed concern:
No journalist or their source should ever be subjected to this: Chelsea Manning @xychelsea jailed for refusing to testify on @Wikileaks https://t.co/fIBknZhwi1 @hrw @article19org @IndexCensorship @IFJGlobal @RSF_inter @rcfp @pressfreedom @amnesty @davidakaye
— Jen Robinson (@suigenerisjen) March 8, 2019
And whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg said Manning is a hero:
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 8, 2019
Chelsea has already served prison time for standing up against government secrecy and revealing war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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.
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