Federal Judge Orders Release of Chelsea Manning

WASHINGTON (CN) – After trying to kill herself a day earlier, Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who disclosed hundreds of sensitive documents to WikiLeaks nearly a decade ago, will finally be released from a Virginia jail.

Detained since May of last year, Manning was remanded after she refused to testify before a grand jury about her role in the sharing of U.S. military secrets and State Department cables with the anti-secrecy, pro-transparency group WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

“The court finds that Ms. Manning’s testimony before the Grand Jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose,” U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Trenga wrote in a 3-page ruling Thursday.

This booking photo provided by the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, in Virginia, shows Chelsea Manning. (Alexandria Sheriff’s Office via AP)

Judge Trenga would not, however, lift fines levied against Manning while in custody. They total $256,000.


Manning was scheduled to appear for a motion hearing Friday in the Eastern District of Virginia courthouse. Her attorneys were expected to argue that her contempt ruling for failure to testify should be squashed and that she should be released.

But on Wednesday afternoon, as told by the Alexandria Sheriff’s Department, Manning made an attempt to take her own life. She was treated and in recovery by Wednesday evening. Her attorneys, in a statement that night, said her actions were “evidence of her convictions, as well as the profound harm she continues to suffer as a result of ‘civil’ confinement.”

Manning gave Assange millions of State Department cables as well as a disturbing classified video that showed U.S. soldiers in a helicopter firing from above on journalists and Iraqi civilians in 2007. Coming out as transgender after she was sentenced to 35 years in prison, Manning served roughly seven years for the leak before President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in 2017.

The former soldier has said her long-standing refusal to answer questions about WikiLeaks is because she has already provided authorities with all of her testimony during her court-martial in 2013. Manning testified for nearly a full day.

Though Manning now has her freedom, Assange’s fate still hangs in the balance. Prosecutors are  fighting to extradite the WikiLeaks founder to the U.S. at the Woolwich Crown Court in London for his alleged conspiracy to steal secrets from the U.S. military and for his exposure of sensitive sources in those leaks.

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