Chelsea Manning will risk return to jail over new subpoena

Manning said she would not comply with a subpoena to testify about her interactions with Julian Assange

Chelsea Manning will risk being returned to jail this week by refusing to comply with a new demand from the US government to testify before a grand jury, she said on Sunday.

In an interview with CNN’s Reliable Sources, Manning said she would not comply with a subpoena from federal prosecutors in Virginia to testify on Thursday about her interactions with Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.

“I am going to refuse,” said Manning. “I think that this grand jury is an improper – I think that all grand juries are improper. I don’t like the secrecy of it.”

Manning was released from a jail in Alexandria, Virginia, this week, after serving 62 days for contempt of court. She was jailed after refusing to testify for prosecutors who appear to be considering further criminal charges against Assange.

Even before leaving jail, Manning was issued with a fresh subpoena ordering her to appear before the grand jury, according to her lawyers. The grand jury is due to meet on 16 May in Alexandria.

Asked on Sunday if she would be back in jail next weekend, Manning said that depended on whether a motion to quash the subpoena, filed by her attorneys, was successful.

“We’re certainly going to raise every single legal challenge,” she said. “We have a very strong case.”

In 2010, when she was a US army intelligence analyst, Manning leaked to WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of secret documents, including logs from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and cables between US diplomats around the world.

Charges against Assange were unveiled by the US last month, for conspiring with Manning to hack into a secret Pentagon computer network. Assange is fighting efforts by the US to extradite him from London to face prosecution.

The current case in which Manning has been called to testify is sealed from public view. But she confirmed on Sunday that her understanding was that prosecutors wanted her testimony to secure additional charges against Assange.

She said: “I think that what’s interesting here is that the process of a grand jury is to obtain indictments. We already have an indictment. So why are we going through this process?”

Manning said prosecutors seemed to want her to recount “the same … procedure of how things happened” that she described in her own trial in 2013. This was “methodically laid out in hours of testimony and a 40-page statement”, she said.

Manning was convicted under the Espionage Act for stealing classified government records. In May 2017 she was released from a military prison in Kansas after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence. Barack Obama granted Manning clemency during his final days in office.


Jon Swaine in New York

The GuardianTramp

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