Chelsea Manning faces contempt hearing after refusing to testify before grand jury

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Chelsea Manning

Supporters of Chelsea Manning believe the grand jury proceedings to be part of a federal investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. | Tobias Schwarz/AFP/Getty Images

Legal

Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, faces a contempt hearing and possible jail time for refusing to testify in front of a grand jury this week, she said in a statement Thursday.

Manning said she invoked her Fourth, Fifth and Sixth amendment rights Wednesday while appearing before a grand jury that asked questions about her public disclosure of diplomatic cables and military logs in 2010, a crime for which she served more than six years in prison. She said she will return to federal court for a closed contempt hearing Friday.

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Supporters of Manning believe the proceedings to be part of a federal investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. The subpoena Manning received in January from the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., did not specify any crimes, but it was issued at the request of a federal prosecutor assigned to handle the fallout from a federal court filing in an unrelated case that named Assange, suggesting the existence of prepared charges against the WikiLeaks founder under seal.

Manning railed against the closed-door proceedings, claiming the secrecy makes those testifying susceptible to abuse.

“In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles,” Manning said in the statement she tweeted Thursday. “I will exhaust every legal remedy available. My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.”

Manning said that she was given immunity for her testimony before the grand jury but still did not offer details to federal prosecutors.

“All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 — answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013,” she said.

Assange was not — and could not — be charged in Manning’s case in 2013 since it was in a U.S. Army court with no jurisdiction over civilians. He was discussed during the trial, however, and evidence suggested Manning was in online discussions with the WikiLeaks founder, though Assange’s involvement was never definitively established.

Since 2012, Assange has taken refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under a grant of asylum, though he has not been publicly charged with a crime in the United States. For almost a decade, he has been the subject of U.S. investigators, including special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into the alleged collusion of the Trump campaign with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.





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