Chelsea Manning jailed again after telling judge she’d rather ‘starve to death’ than cooperate with grand jury

A picture of Chelsea Manning standing in front of a fence and raising her fist.
John McEvoy

After just six days of freedom, former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was remanded into custody on 16 May for refusing to testify before a federal Grand Jury.

Manning will be held in confinement for the entire investigation. And Judge Anthony Trenga has demanded that Manning “be fined $500 every day she is in custody after 30 days and $1,000 every day she is in custody after 60 days”.

“I would rather starve”

Manning told those at the hearing:

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I would rather starve to death than… change my opinion in this regard. And when I say that, I mean that quite literally.

Before the hearing, Manning addressed a small crowd of supporters and press to discuss her case. She spoke to one reporter about why she’s being re-called to testify:

Ultimately, this is an attempt to place me back in confinement… The questions are the same questions that I was asked before the court martial… seven, eight years ago… They’re not asking anything new. There’s no new information that they’re trying to get from me…

The goal here is to… re-litigate the court martial… They didn’t like the outcome; I got out. So this is a way of placing me back into confinement.

Since Manning is determined not to testify, imprisoning her again – for an undetermined amount of time – could be seen as a blindly punitive measure.

The US attorney did not confirm what his office will do if Manning continues to refuse to testify after the grand jury expires.

Reaction

Manning’s lawyer responded to the decision by calling on journalists to support Manning:

It’s up to the press to stand up for themselves, to stand up for the practice of journalism, and to stand up for Chelsea in the same manner she has consistently stood up for the press.

Prof Yanis Varoufakis said “the war against the public’s right to know continues to rage”:

And the Courage Foundation suggested the US government’s detainment of Manning is tied to its efforts to build a case on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange:

Manning’s persecution forms part of a wider war on whistleblowers – a war initiated by Barack Obama but intensified under Donald Trump. But any administration that truly respected the US constitution wouldn’t just free Manning – it would decorate her for services to truth.

Featured image via WikiCommons/Manolo Luna

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