Saturday 14 March 2020

Chelsea Manning Released From Prison After Judge Dissolves Julian Assange Grand Jury

Convicted leaker Chelsea Manning has been released from prison after serving months on a contempt of court charge after refusing to testify in front of a grand jury investigating Wikileaks editor Julian Assange.
Manning “was remanded for refusing to testify in an inquiry into Wikileaks. She had been held in a detention center in Virginia since last May,” according to the BBC, which also noted that Manning has been charged a daily fine and the sum total Manning now owes is over a quarter million dollars.
Earlier this week, Manning was rushed to the hospital after what prison authorities termed “an incident.” Manning’s legal team later revealed the incident was a suicide attempt.
Manning was due to appear before a judge on Friday to answer questions about Assange yet again, but late Thursday afternoon, Manning’s legal team was reportedly informed that the former low-level intelligence officer could go free. Manning’s testimony was no longer necessary because the grand jury investigating possible charges against Assange had been disbanded.
“Judge Anthony Trenga today ordered Chelsea Manning’s release from confinement, after the apparent conclusion of the grand jury to which she had been subpoenaed, and before which she refused to testify. He further ordered that she pay $256,000 in fines which accrued each day she refused to cooperate with the grand jury,” Manning’s legal team said in a statement Thursday afternoon. “Needless to say we are relieved and ask that you respect her privacy while she gets on her feet.”
The United States is currently petitioning to have Julian Assange extradited so that he can face trial, potentially on charges of espionage stemming from his interactions with Manning, who pulled hundreds of classified documents from the war in Iraq, including videos, and submitted them to Wikileaks in the hopes of embarrassing the United States military. Wikileaks ultimately published the material. Manning was captured and charged with espionage shortly after the leak and was convicted in 2013.
President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s 35-year prison sentence as he left office in 2017.
The grand jury had been investigating whether Assange aided Manning in Manning’s quest to find and download damaging materials. According to documents submitted to the United Kingdom, which now has Assange in custody, the United States believes Assange counseled Manning on how to bypass U.S. cybersecurity measures and helped Manning crack passwords. Although little evidence has yet been presented — largely because Assange remains in the U.K. — the United States seems to believe that Manning did not have the sophisticated knowledge necessary to swipe the documents without help from Wikileaks and its editor-in-chief.
Manning refused to testify in front of the grand jury, claiming that all the information the United States needed was contained in transcripts from Manning’s 2013 trial, where Manning was questioned at length about communication with both Assange and Wikileaks. Manning’s legal team told the court that Manning did not need to answer any further questions, but the judge felt differently, finding Manning in contempt of court and remanding the former member of the U.S. military to prison until Manning made the decision to comply.

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