Veteran journalist says US and UK treatment of Chelsea Manning signals a ‘return of fascism’

A photo of Chelsea Manning and John Pilger.
Bryan Wall

The US government is now fining Chelsea Manning $1,000 per day for her refusal to testify in front of a grand jury. Journalist John Pilger has described her treatment as “a warning of the return of fascism.”

Jailed for contempt

A judge had previously jailed Manning for contempt in March. She had declined to give evidence about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange in front of a grand jury. The authorities eventually freed her in May. But seven days later, Judge Anthony Trenga ordered her back to jail. This was for again declining to testify in front of the grand jury.

The judge also ordered that, after 30 days, Manning pay fines of $500 every day she remains in jail. So far, these fines amount to $15,000. But the judge had also ordered that the fines increase after 60 days. And as of 16 July, her fines are now $1,000 per day.

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Her legal team believes her total fines will be over $440,000 if she continues in her refusal to give evidence. They argued that:

This excessive amount may violate her Eighth Amendment rights under the Constitution.

The return of fascism?

Also criticising Manning’s treatment was Australian journalist John Pilger. In an interview with the Morning Star, Pilger said:

Chelsea is incarcerated in Virginia and fined $1,000 a day for refusing to incriminate the Wikileaks editor of non-existent crimes.

He went on to state that the British government jailed Assange so that it can eventually extradite him “to Trump’s dungeons”. Pilger also accused British foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt of “hypocrisy” for holding a conference on media freedom just seven miles from where the British government is holding Assange.

And as a result, he declared:

Mark these disgraces as a warning of the return of fascism.

Fighting for freedom

Manning’s lawyers previously filed a motion requesting her immediate release. They argued that the government cannot coerce her “and that her incarceration is therefore only punitive”. Given this, they asserted that the government is violating Manning’s due process rights.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons – Manolo Luna / Wikimedia Commons – SCU Media Students

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  • Show Comments
    1. Excessive fines used to be classed as cruel and unusual punishment, presumably because they can crush the poor by destroying their finances. Excessive fines are now a favourite blunt instrument used more widely as western powers become more authoritarian in their drive to crush working class dissent.

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