Chelsea Manning Returns to Jail for Refusal to Inform on WikiLeaks

Chelsea Manning addresses the media outside federal court in Alexandria, Va., on March 5, 2019. The former Army intelligence analyst was ordered to jail three days later for refusing to testify to a Virginia grand jury investigating Wikileaks. (AP Photo/Matthew Barakat)

(CN) — Freed from a military prison almost two years ago, WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning returned to federal lockup on Friday for refusing to testify about the same military and diplomatic disclosures that ended her career as an Army intelligence analyst.

“I will not comply with this, or any other grand jury,” Manning posted on her Twitter account this afternoon. “Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly stated ethical objections to the grand jury system.”

Manning added that she stood by the testimony that she delivered more than five years ago in a Fort Meade, Maryland, military courtroom.

That’s when the transgender soldier first acknowledged leaking an enormous tranche of U.S. diplomatic cables, incident reports from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and airstrike videos. She served seven years of a 35-year sentence for violations of the Espionage Act and other offenses before being granted clemency under the waning days of the Obama presidency.

Federal prosecutors in Virginia have not disclosed what new information they are seeking related to this old testimony, but press interviews with Manning’s former confidant David House, a computer expert, indicate that the Department of Justice has a renewed interest in the so-called “war logs.”

“They wanted full insight into WikiLeaks, what its goals were and why I was associated with it,” House said of the prosecutors, as reported by the Washington Post. “They wanted explanations of why certain things occurred and how they occurred. … It was all related to disclosures around the war logs.”

House, whose spat with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange erupted as far back as 2012, reportedly spent 90 minutes testifying before the grand jury.

Manning is said to have spent little time at a brief hearing today before telling U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton that she will “accept whatever you bring upon me.”

The judge ordered Manning to jail for contempt of court until she testifies or until the grand jury reaches its conclusion.

Manning’s attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen told reporters that her primary concern now is her client’s health.

“She can be held for the term of the grand jury and in no event, longer than 18 months,” Meltzer-Cohen told reporters, in a video broadcast by ABC.

Meltzer-Cohen added that the contempt order is appealable, but she has not decided whether she will challenge it.

President Donald Trump made no secret of his disdain for Manning, calling her an “Ungrateful TRAITOR” in a tweet less than a week after his inauguration. At trial in 2013, a judge acquitted Manning of the aiding-the-enemy charge, the military equivalent of treason.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump gushed “I love WikiLeaks” and regularly promoted the website’s steady drip of leaks and gossip hobbling his opponent Hillary Clinton. The Justice Department’s prosecutors meanwhile do not appear as enamored.

In November, prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia – the same jurisdiction where the grand jury is empaneled – wrote that Assange had been secretly criminally charged in a motion to seal an unrelated child pornography case. Prosecutors insisted that had been an error in a court filing and opposed a motion to unseal charges against the WikiLeaks founder.

WikiLeaks also has been the subject of numerous oblique references to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s courtroom filings related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

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