VIRGINIA – Chelsea Manning is facing a contempt hearing and possible jail time after refusing to answer questions about her 2010 public disclosure of military secrets before a grand jury this week, she said in a statement Thursday.
Manning objected to every question she was asked and asserted her first, fourth and sixth amendment privileges throughout testimony in a Virginia federal courthouse Wednesday, she said.
On Friday, Manning will appear before Judge Claude M. Hilton for a contempt hearing, returning the controversial advocate to the center of a privacy and criminal justice debate nearly 10 years after she first shared thousands of classified military and diplomatic files with WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, who appears now to be in the government’s crosshairs.
“In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles,” Manning said. “My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.”
Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst, was convicted in 2013 for the unprecedented leak that included millions of State Department cables and a classified video of a US helicopter firing on civilians and journalists in Iraq in 2007.
Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, though that was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017.
Manning revealed that she had been subpoenaed to appear before the grand jury this week and had vowed to fight it, citing an opposition to the grand jury process. A motion she submitted to quash the subpoena was denied by Hilton earlier this week.
While grand juries are conducted in secret, it is not illegal for witnesses who have been called before them to discuss the proceedings.
Manning in her statement said she had been given immunity for her testimony before the grand jury, but did not offer more detail on the questions she was asked by a federal prosecutor on Wednesday. Military officials would have already been able to ask Manning about her contacts with WikiLeaks and Assange over an eight-week military trial in 2013.
“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,” Manning said Thursday.
The Justice Department has been investigating Assange and WikiLeaks since at least 2010, when the site began posting the files that Manning later admitted to illegally downloading from the military and transferring to the group.
Last year, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Manning has been subpoenaed, mistakenly revealed in a court filing that they had prepared sealed charges against Assange.
Another judge in the same court this year declined a reporters group’s motion to unseal those charges.
The federal prosecutor who tried that case, Gordon D. Kromberg, also requested the subpoena compelling Manning’s testimony earlier this year, according to a copy of the subpoena provided to CNN by a representative for Manning.