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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify on WikiLeaks

The former soldier leaked a trove of secret documents

US whistleblower Chelsea Manning poses for photographs as she makes her first public appearance in Britain. EPA.
US whistleblower Chelsea Manning poses for photographs as she makes her first public appearance in Britain. EPA.

Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning has been sent to jail for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

US District Judge Claude Hilton ordered Manning to jail for contempt of court on Friday after a brief hearing in which Manning confirmed she has no intention of testifying. She told the judge she "will accept whatever you bring upon me".

Manning has said she objects to the secrecy of the grand jury process, and that she already revealed everything she knows at her court martial.

The judge said she will remain jailed until she testifies or until the grand jury concludes its work.

Manning's lawyers had asked that she be sent to home confinement instead of the jail, because of medical complications she faces.

The judge said US marshals can handle her medical care. Prosecutor Tracy McCormick said the jail and the marshals have assured the government that her medical needs can be met.

Manning anticipated being jailed. In a statement before Friday's hearing, she said she invoked her First, Fourth and Sixth amendment protections when she appeared before the grand jury in Alexandria on Wednesday. She said she already answered every substantive question during her 2013 court-martial, and is prepared to face the consequences of refusing to answer again.

"In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available," she said.

Manning served seven years of a 35-year military sentence for leaking a trove of military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy website before then-President Barack Obama commuted her sentence.

Ms McCormick said Manning can easily end this incarceration on the civil charge simply by following the law and testifying.

"We hope she changes her mind now," Ms McCormick said.

Manning's lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, said she believes jailing Manning is an act of cruelty given her medical issues, and said Manning's one-bedroom apartment would be a sufficient manner of confinement.

Outside the courthouse, about 10 protesters rallied in her support.

"Obviously prison is a terrible place," Meltzer-Cohen said. "I don't see the purpose to incarcerate people."

The WikiLeaks investigation has been ongoing for a long time. Last year, prosecutors in Alexandria inadvertently disclosed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is facing unspecified, sealed criminal charges in the district.

WikiLeaks is an important part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian meddling into the 2016 presidential election, as investigators focus on whether President Donald Trump's campaign knew Russian hackers were going to provide emails to WikiLeaks stolen from Democratic organisations, including presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's campaign.

Updated: March 9, 2019 03:33 PM

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