Judge Orders Chelsea Manning Freed

Grand jury that subpoenaed her testimony no longer exists
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 12, 2020 6:35 PM CDT
Judge Orders Chelsea Manning Freed
Chelsea Manning, shown in 2017, was ordered released from custody Thursday.   (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)

A federal judge on Thursday ordered the release of former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who has been incarcerated since May for refusing to testify to a grand jury. US District Judge Anthony Trenga ordered Manning's release from jail after prosecutors reported that the grand jury that subpoenaed her has disbanded, the AP reports. The judge left in place more than $256,000 in fines he imposed for her refusal to testify to the grand jury, which is investigating WikiLeaks. The fines had been accumulating at a rate of $1,000 a day. A hearing in the case scheduled for Friday has now been canceled. Manning had argued that she had shown through her prolonged stay at the Alexandria jail that she proved she could not be coerced into testifying and therefore should be released. On Wednesday, her lawyers said she attempted suicide while at the jail.

Manning spent an additional two months in jail last year for refusing to testify to a separate grand jury. The civil contempt citation was designed to coerce her testimony. Federal prosecutors had maintained that Manning can easily effect her own release by complying with the grand jury subpoena. Under federal law, a recalcitrant witness can only be jailed for civil contempt if there is a reasonable belief that incarceration will coerce the witness into testifying. If the jail time has no coercive effect and is purely punitive, the recalcitrant witness is supposed to be released. Manning has said she believes grand juries in general are an abuse of power and that she would rather starve to death than testify. She previously spent seven years in a military prison for delivering classified information to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Her 35-year sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama.

(Read more Chelsea Manning stories.)

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