‘Nothing will convince me to testify’: Chelsea Manning still in Virginia jail

Posted at 5:09 AM, May 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-07 06:51:11-04

Chelsea Manning has formally asked a court to release her from jail, nearly two months after she refused to testify in a federal grand jury investigation and was imprisoned for it.

A federal judge denied Chelsea Manning’s effort to avoid testifying before a grand jury in Virginia.
CREDIT: Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Out Magazine

She says that “nothing will convince me to testify,” according to new documents filed in the Eastern District of Virginia court.

Manning’s attorneys say that prosecutors have no good reason to seek her grand jury testimony, and her detention has become punitive.

“She is convinced that to cooperate with this grand jury would be a betrayal of her beliefs about the grand jury process, and this grand jury process in particular. She is prepared to suffer the consequences for her beliefs, and it should surprise nobody to find that she has the courage of her convictions,” her attorneys wrote to the court on Monday.

Manning previously spent seven years in jail for providing hundreds of thousands of stolen governments documents to WikiLeaks, led by Julian Assange.

Prosecutors refuse to say why they want Manning’s testimony this year, though they’ve said they continue to conduct an ongoing investigation. Manning’s imprisonment came one year after a federal grand jury in the same US district court indicted Assange for a computer hacking conspiracy charge that hinges on conversations Manning and Assange had and steps they took in 2010. The US is currently seeking Assange’s extradition since his arrest last month, and he remains in jail in Britain. Manning is not charged in that case.

Manning currently is being held until she complies with the subpoena or the grand jury’s term ends. She said in an affidavit to the federal court that she was held in isolation within the Alexandria, Virginia, detention center for almost a month and became nauseous and sick because of it. Manning, a transgender woman, also says the continued imprisonment puts her at risk of complications following her sex reassignment surgery in October.

In an affidavit filed with the court on Monday, Manning repeated, “I acted alone” in the 2010 leaks.

“The idea I hold the keys to my own cell is an absurd one, as I face the prospect of suffering either way due to this unnecessary and punitive subpoena: I can either go to jail or betray my principles. The latter exists as a much worse prison than the government can construct,” Manning wrote to the court.