This week, a US judge denied a motion by Chelsea Manning’s lawyers to end the sanctions he had placed on her. Judge Anthony Trenga argued that Manning is able to afford the $1,000-dollar-per-day fines. This is despite Manning being unable to work and having limited savings due to her incarceration.
In response, though, Manning insisted:
this doesn’t change my position one bit.
Manning was initially jailed by a judge in March for 62 days for contempt. This was for refusing to give evidence in front of a grand jury about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. Trenga then sent Manning back to jail for contempt for a second time on 16 May after only 6 days of freedom. Manning again refused to testify against WikiLeaks and Assange in front of a grand jury.
As well as sending her to jail, Trenga ordered that she pay fines of $500 per day after 30 days. He also ordered that the fines increase to $1,000 per day after 60 days.
Manning’s lawyers had filed an appeal arguing that “civil contempt sanctions may only be coercive”. Trenga’s sanctions, they insisted, are instead “merely punitive, and must be terminated”.
But Trenga denied the motion, writing that:
Ms. Manning has the ability to comply with the Court’s financial sanctions or will have the ability after her release from confinement. Therefore, the imposed fines of $500 per day after 30 days and $1,000 per day after 60 days is not so excessive as to relieve her of those sanctions or to constitute punishment rather than a coercive measure.
The government can legally hold Manning for 18 months. And this means that her total fines could amount to roughly $441,000.
After hearing about the judge’s ruling, Manning said:
I am disappointed but not at all surprised. The government and the judge must know by now that this doesn’t change my position one bit.
On social media, meanwhile, reactions were less calm. Many people voiced their disgust at Manning’s ongoing incarceration and treatment by the government. Some asked how could it be legal:
Others argued that it violates Manning’s constitutional rights:
Yet more praised Manning for her “courage”:
Chelsea Manning is a hero for revealing injustices done in our name. She is a political prisoner and needs to be freed.
— Cesar Escutia (@EscutiaIL) August 8, 2019
A history of standing up to power
Manning has a history of bravery. When she leaked the ‘Collateral Murder’ video to Wikileaks, she highlighted the gross war crimes that the US was carrying out in Iraq. By refusing to testify against WikiLeaks and Assange, she’s again showing bravery in the face of powerful forces.
Because of this, she not only deserves our praise; she deserves – and, in fact, needs – our support.
Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – re:publica
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