Chelsea Manning shows the world what real courage is. Now the world needs to respond.

Chelsea Manning whistleblower
Tom Coburg

In 2013, former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was convicted of violating America’s Espionage Act – along with other offences – and sentenced to 35 years. In January 2017, former US president Barack Obama commuted that sentence and Manning was freed. Now Manning is back in jail because she refuses to testify against WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange.

Statement

In a statement, Manning said that she already revealed everything she knows at her court-martial.

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ShadowProof editor Kevin Gosztola, who reported almost daily on Manning’s court martial, spoke about the latest developments:

Global support

Some of the prominent people who voiced support for Manning (then Bradley) in the lead-up to and during her court martial included Professor Noam Chomsky and author and social commentator Ralph Nader. Three Nobel Peace Prize laureates – Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, and Mairead Corrigan-Maguire – also spoke out in support of her. And Corrigan-Maguire nominated Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013.

Support from a number of celebrities came in the form of a video:

Manning is the recipient of several awards, including the Guardian’s Person of the Year and the prestigious Sean MacBride Peace Prize (though Manning has made it clear she’s not a pacifist).

In 2014, around 100 prominent figures also signed a statement in support of Edward Snowden, WikiLeaks, and whistleblowers, including Manning.

The reason why Manning was court martialled

Manning was responsible for the leak of over 700,000 documents. Relating to the second Iraq War and the Afghanistan conflict, these were subsequently published by WikiLeaks,

On 22 October 2010, Wikileaks released the Iraq War Logs:

Perhaps Manning’s most infamous war crime exposé was a video of a US Army Apache helicopter in Baghdad in 2007 opening fire on a group of men. The helicopter crew fired on civilians, including a Reuters photographer and his driver. The crew also fired on a van that stopped to rescue one of the wounded men. The driver of the van was taking his small children to a tutoring session. He was killed, and his two children badly injured.

Here is the full version of what happened in that killing spree:

Activist

After her original sentence was commuted, Manning was keen to throw her support behind a number of political struggles – against fascism and for LGBTQI+ rights:

Manning on WikiLeaks

Manning provided material to WikiLeaks, and that material was subsequently published by The Guardian, The New York Times, Der Spiegel, The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the BBC. The Guardian also published the key war crimes that Manning revealed.

In an article published by The Guardian in 2015, when she was still incarcerated, Manning crucially observed:

…when I was court-martialled for providing government documents and information that I felt were in the public interest to a media organization, the government charged me with “aiding the enemy” – a treason-related offense under the US constitution and military justice system that even civilians may be charged with. During one of my pre-trial hearings in January 2013, the military judge in my case, US Army Colonel Denise Lind, asked the government lawyers: “Does it make any difference – if we substituted Wikileaks for The New York Times: would the government still be charging this case in the manner that it has and proceeding as you’re doing?” An assistant trial counsel for the government answered a straightforward “Yes, Ma’am”.

Sealed indictment

The US Department of Justice has confirmed to Associated Press and New York Times that Assange has been charged under seal.

According to researcher Alexa O’Brien, US Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed the Grand Jury investigation into WikiLeaks on 29 November 2010.

And in a 2013 affidavit, Assange stated:

In Alexandria, Virginia, a Grand Jury has been empanelled for the past three years to explore ways to prosecute WikiLeaks for its publishing work. It has identified seven civilians, including the ‘founders, owners or managers of WikiLeaks’. The Grand Jury’s case number is 10GJ3793.

The late Michael Ratner, Assange’s US lawyer, was certain about the most likely charge:

[T]he Grand Jury’s number is 10, standing for the year it began, GJ which is Grand Jury and then 3793. Three is the Conspiracy Statute in the United States. 793 is the Espionage Statute. So what they’re investigating is 3793: conspiracy to commit espionage.

In June 2012, lawyer David House told the Grand Jury investigating WikiLeaks and its alleged dealings with Manning:

The show trial that is now underway in Alexandria VA has the potential to set a dangerous precedent for regulating the media. Using Nixonian fear tactics that were honed during the Pentagon Papers investigation, the DoJ is attempting to dismantle a major media organization –WikiLeaks – and indict its editor, Julian Assange.

Detention

According to the Intercept:

Individuals who refuse to cooperate [with a grand jury] can be held in civil contempt by a judge and imprisoned for up to 18 months, the length of the grand jury.

Manning’s lawyers asked that her confinement be at home, not in jail, given her medical condition as part of her transitioning. But that request has been denied.

Clearly, global support is needed once more to demand that Chelsea Manning, probably the world’s most famous whistleblower, be released yet again.

Featured image via screenshot.

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