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Chelsea Manning Sent to Jail for Contempt of Court

Judge says she won't get out until she testifies or grand jury finishes work
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 8, 2019 10:16 AM CST
Updated Mar 8, 2019 2:30 PM CST

(Newser) – On Thursday, Chelsea Manning said she'd stand her ground and refuse to testify in front of a secret grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. "I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal," she said in a statement. Those consequences came Friday, with Manning taken into custody after US District Judge Claude Hilton found her in contempt of court and ordered her sent to jail until either she agrees to answer the grand jury's questions or the grand jury wraps up its work, ABC News reports. Manning is now in the women's wing of the federal detention center in Alexandria, Virginia, reports the New York Times. The details:

  • Why: Manning, 31, has refused to testify because she says she already said everything she knew during her court martial ("I've given voluminous testimony"), and because she doesn't like how hush-hush this grand jury process has been. “These secret proceedings tend to favor the government,” she said before the hearing, per the Washington Post. “I’m always willing to explain things publicly.”
  • How long? CNN reports that Manning can be held for the duration of the grand jury but not longer than 18 months. Asked whether her client was ready to be imprisoned 18 months, attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen said, "We are not there yet." Meltzer-Cohen, who had asked the judge to consider home confinement instead of jail, is expected to appeal the order.

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  • Not answering: NBC News reports the ex-US Army intelligence analyst had appeared Wednesday in front of the grand jury in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, but she stayed tight-lipped when asked questions, instead responding, "I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights." Her refusal to testify comes after prosecutors granted her immunity.
  • The grand jury: So what is the grand jury investigating? Not clear, but the AP notes that the federal investigation of WikiLeaks and founder Julian Assange has been going for years. Last year, for instance, prosecutors inadvertently revealed that Assange faced unspecified charges.
  • Commuted: Manning had been sent to prison for 35 years for leaking military intel to WikiLeaks. She spent seven years behind bars before President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017.
(Read more Chelsea Manning stories.)

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