Chelsea Manning says goodbye to freedom yet again after refusing to testify before grand jury

Chelsea Manning is saying goodbye to freedom once again.

The former Army intelligence officer will be imprisoned once more after refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating Wikileaks.

(Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Manning already served two months for refusing to testify, but was released after that grand jury term expired. She served her time at the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia.

U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga has now ordered Manning to be jailed until she agrees to testify or until this grand jury term expires in 18 months.

Manning will be charged $500 a day if she doesn’t comply in 30 days. After 60 days pass, she will be fined $1000 a day.

Manning said on Thursday that she will not testify even if it means spending the rest of her days behind bars.

“I would rather starve to death than change my position in this regard,” Manning told the Virginia court on Thursday. Manning has said she does not believe in the grand jury process as too much is kept secret from the public.

“It’s unfortunate we’re at this point,” Judge Trenga said in court. The judge told Manning there is nothing “dishonorable” about doing one’s civil duty by testifying. He said he hopes the leaker changes her mind while in jail this time.

Manning made it clear that there is no punishment that will make her change her mind or her positions on grand juries — Manning does not agree with the secrecy that goes with them.

“The government cannot build a prison bad enough, cannot create a system worse than the idea that I would ever change my principles,” she said.

Manning’s lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, argued that because jailing Manning once did not motivate a testimony, that doing so a second time will not produce a different result. It was argued that because of this, the sanction then becomes actual punishment.

“She knows what it is to suffer and she walked into this with her eyes open,” Metzer-Cohen said.

US Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger refused to tell press members why Manning needed to testify on Wikileaks, but he made it clear that the testimony is essential.

“What I can tell you is that there is a lawfully predicated reason for seeking her testimony,” he said.

Manning’s lawyer managed to tie the whole affair into the Trump administration when speaking to reporters.

“This administration is … obsessed with unwinding Obama’s legacy, from health care to Chelsea’s commutation,” she said.

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, had been staying in the Ecuador embassy in London until he was taken into custody by British authorities last month. The indictment in Virginia court charges Assange with conspiring to hack into US Defense Department computer systems in 2010 with the help of Manning.

The United States has made efforts to extradite Assange, but the process could take years, if successful at all.

Manning previously spent seven years in military prison for leaking classified military documents to Wikileaks. President Barack Obama commuted her sentence days before President Donald Trump took office.


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