Chelsea Manning, who was imprisoned for sharing government secrets with WikiLeaks, is back in jail after refusing to testify before a grand jury about Julian Assange’s organization. A federal judge, Claude H. Hilton, found her in contempt of court, The New York Times reported, and she was subsequently taken to the women’s wing of Alexandria, Virginia’s federal detention center.
“In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles,” she told the press Thursday. “I will exhaust every legal remedy available. My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.”
She made her decision not to testify even though prosecutors from the Eastern District of Virginia offered her immunity. Nevertheless she refused to answer every question, citing constitutional rights.
Manning, a former intelligence analyst for the Army, admitted in 2013 that she’d sent a vast amount of information to Assange’s organization. A judge subsequently sentenced her to 35 years in prison, but Obama commuted the rest of her sentence in 2017 after she’d served only seven years. The Times says it’s the longest amount of time any U.S. citizen has been incarcerated for leaks.
Prior to Obama setting her free, her time in prison became a cause célèbre because she was transitioning genders at the time and could not get the support she needed in a men’s prison. She attempted suicide twice.
After she was released, Manning defined for The New York Times Magazine what she felt was classified information that should be made public. “There are plenty of things that should be kept secret,” she said. “Let’s protect sensitive sources. Let’s protect troop movements. Let’s protect nuclear information. Let’s not hide missteps. Let’s not hide misguided policies. Let’s not hide history. Let’s not hide who we are and what we are doing.”
The grand jury she refused to testify before is investigating WikiLeaks and Assange. The Obama launched the inquiry, according to the paper, but decided not to charge Assange because it feared such an act would threaten the first-amendment rights of journalists. The Trump administration has since resumed the investigation. It was revealed last November that prosecutors had charged Assange under seal, though the exact charge is unknown. Assange has been living in London’s Ecuadorean Embassy for the past many years in an effort to avoid prosecution.
Manning’s attorney asked that her client be placed under house arrest but the judge denied that request. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney said that the civil detention center that was holding Manning would look after her medical requirements. The paper reports that she could be held until the conclusion of the jury. Prosecutors could then subpoena her again and repeat the process if they wished.
“The government does not want to confine Ms. Manning,” federal prosecutor Tracy Doherty-McCormick said, according to the Times. “It has always been our intent and hope for her to testify and comply with the valid court order and valid grand jury investigation. Ms. Manning could change her mind right now and do so. It is her choice. This is a rule of law issue, and Ms. Manning is not above the law.”