Former United States Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning was jailed on Friday after a judge held her in contempt for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury, Reuters reported. The US Justice Department and representatives for Manning confirmed the development.
Manning had appeared before the grand jury on Wednesday but refused to answer questions in connection with the government’s investigation into Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange. She returned to court for another hearing on Friday. Virginia District Court Judge Claude Hilton weighed the legal arguments used by Manning to justify her decision to defy the subpoena.
“Chelsea Manning has been remanded into federal custody for her refusal to provide testimony,” AFP quoted a statement from the Sparrow Project, a support group for Manning, as saying. According to Hilton, Manning would be held indefinitely “until she purges or the end of the life of the grand jury”.
In a statement, Manning said she had “ethical” objections to the grand jury system and had answered all questions about her involvement with WikiLeaks years ago. “I stand by my previous testimony,” she said. “I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech.”
Manning was reportedly asked to testify in connection with the information she leaked to the public in 2010 through WikiLeaks. At the time Manning, a transgender woman then known as Bradley Manning, was a military intelligence analyst.
Three years later, Manning was convicted by court-martial of espionage and other offences for disclosing more than 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks. The documents exposed cover-ups of possible war crimes and revealed internal US communications about other countries.
In his final days in office, former President Barack Obama had commuted the final 28 years of Manning’s 35-year sentence. Manning was released from prison in May 2017.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has been a target of a criminal investigation in the US, had promised to accept extradition if Manning was freed. Assange has been living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012.