A year in jail & quarter million fine since Manning refused to testify against WikiLeaks

Chelsea Manning’s attorney has filed a new motion requesting her release from jail, where she has been for nearly a year for continuously refusing to testify before a grand jury against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.

Manning’s incarceration has “exceeded its lawful scope” by moving from being a coercive tactic to a criminal punishment, her lawyer Moira Meltzer-Cohen said in a motion requesting her release filed on Friday.

Manning was jailed in March of 2019 for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. She has been held at the Alexandria Detention Center in Virginia since then and fined $1,000 a day for refusing to cooperate. Her fines now total $230,000.

In the new motion, Manning made clear that she still refuses to testify, since she does not believe in grand juries and claims they are used to “harass and disrupt political opponents and activists through secrecy, coercion, and jailing without trial.”

Manning’s attorney says her client’s continued refusal to testify makes keeping her behind bars unlawful because “the only permissible purpose for sanctions under the civil contempt statute is to coerce a witness to comply with the subpoena.” Since Manning refuses to testify and cannot be coerced, Meltzer-Cohen argues there is no lawful reason to imprison her. 

Manning can be held for up to 18 months, or until the grand jury has concluded their work.

The legal motion includes a personality assessment from Dr. Sara Boyd, who argues that Manning is incapable of acting against her conscience, as well as a letter from UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, concluding that coercive confinement is “torture” and violates international law. 

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