Chelsea Manning Ordered Back to Jail for Refusal to Testify in WikiLeaks Inquiry


Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who provided secret military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, was sent to jail again on Thursday after refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating the organization, which publishes leaks online.

Ms. Manning was jailed for similar reasons in March, but was released last week when the term of the grand jury that had served her with a subpoena in January expired.

This month she was served with another subpoena to appear before a new grand jury. At a closed hearing on Thursday, she told a federal judge that she would not answer questions, and he ordered her to be sent back to Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia, either until she agrees to testify or until the grand jury’s term expires in 18 months.

The judge, Anthony J. Trenga of United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, also ordered Ms. Manning to be fined $500 for every day she remains in custody after 30 days, and $1,000 for every day she remains in custody after 60 days.

“We are of course disappointed with the outcome of today’s hearing,” Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a lawyer for Ms. Manning, said in a statement. “But I anticipate it will be exactly as coercive as the previous sanction — which is to say not at all.”

Prosecutors have granted immunity to Ms. Manning for her testimony, but she has said that she had already answered pertinent questions during a court-martial in 2013, and will not cooperate with a grand jury no matter how long she is detained.

“As a general principle, I object to grand juries,” she said in a video statement after being released last week. “Prosecutors run grand juries behind closed doors and in secret without a judge present. Therefore, I declined to answer any questions.”

Prosecutors said the jail time was meant to persuade Ms. Manning to testify. After the hearing on Thursday, G. Zachary Terwilliger, United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said that Ms. Manning was being treated like any other citizen who might have relevant information, The Associated Press reported.

“All we want is for her to truthfully answer any questions,” he said.

But lawyers for Ms. Manning have argued that jail time is pointless and punitive because she refuses to answer questions no matter what.

“I would rather starve than change my principles in this regard,” Ms. Manning said to Judge Trenga on Thursday.

Both the subpoenas served to Ms. Manning by the Eastern District of Virginia this year came after prosecutors inadvertently disclosed in November that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, had been charged under seal in that district.

The investigation into Mr. Assange is part of a criminal inquiry that began during the Obama administration. Mr. Assange evaded the investigation for seven years by sheltering in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where he continued his activities with WikiLeaks, including working on the release of thousands of Democratic Party emails stolen by Russian hackers during the presidential campaign of 2016.

But Ecuador suspended the citizenship it had granted him and kicked Mr. Assange out of the embassy last month. He was arrested to face allegations in the United States that he had conspired to hack into a Pentagon computer network in 2010.

During her 2013 court-martial, Ms. Manning admitted sending secret documents to WikiLeaks, including hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and Army reports from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. She also confessed to interacting online with someone who was probably Mr. Assange, but she said she had acted on principle and was not working for WikiLeaks.

A military judge sentenced Ms. Manning to 35 years in prison in 2013. She served seven years, including pretrial custody, by the time President Barack Obama commuted the remainder of her sentence in 2017. It was the longest amount of time that any American had served in prison for leaking government secrets to the public. Ms. Manning, who was known as Bradley at the time of her conviction and transitioned to life as a woman while in a prison for men, was lauded by some free speech advocates as well as gay and transgender activists while she was incarcerated.

Ms. Manning spent 63 days in jail when she was detained earlier this year, including 28 days in solitary confinement conditions, her lawyers said in a statement on Thursday.



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