Chelsea Manning has been taken into custody for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury, in the same Virginia district where the government inadvertently revealed a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
As ABC News reported, Manning was taken into custody on Friday after refusing to answer the grand jury’s questions. Manning was then found to be in contempt of court. Manning released a statement saying that she was prepared to face the consequences for her refusal to answer questions.
“A judge will consider the legal grounds for my refusal to answer questions in front of a grand jury,” Manning said. “The court may find me in contempt, and order me to jail.”
That was exactly what happened, with Manning being arrested on Friday morning after her refusal to answer questions.
Chelsea Manning was imprisoned for the 2010 release of classified information to WikiLeaks, information which included diplomatic cables and video of a 2007 attack by a U.S. helicopter in Baghdad — one that left civilians dead, including two reporters from Reuters. Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison following her trial in 2013, but her sentence was commuted by Barack Obama in 2017.
Manning’s arrest and imprisonment had drawn controversy from those who believed she should have been afforded whistleblower protections, and critics of her sentencing noted that her initial 35-year sentence was especially harsh compared to similar cases.
The apparent decision to target WikiLeaks — and founder Julian Assange — has now also drawn criticism from many who believe that the agency should be afforded the same First Amendment protections as other news agencies that publish sensitive documents and reports. A recent report from The Daily Beast noted that the Obama administration held off on prosecuting WikiLeaks for fear of running into First Amendment issues, but that has changed under Donald Trump.
“After the election [of Donald Trump], that all changed,” the report noted. “The FBI began reaching out again to the diverse cast of characters from WikiLeaks’ early days — most of whom had long ago parted company with Assange on acrimonious terms.”
Chelsea Manning sent to jail for refusing to testify in Wikileaks case https://t.co/RUs9v5pG8u— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) March 8, 2019
There had been signs that Chelsea Manning would be pulled into the grand jury, the report added. David House, who worked as a volunteer for WikiLeaks and has been friends with Manning, said he was subpoenaed in May to appear before a grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia. This is the same location to which Manning was also summoned this week. House said that he decided to cooperate with the investigation in exchange for immunity.
Chelsea Manning will remain in jail until she either decides to testify, or until the grand jury’s work concludes, ABC News noted.