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Statement from Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Regarding Chelsea Being Remanded Into Custody

Alexandria, VA — Today, Chelsea Manning was remanded into federal custody, again, for refusing to testify before a federal Grand Jury.  

In addition to being held in confinement for the duration of the Grand Jury investigation or until she purges her contempt and testifies, District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ordered Chelsea to be fined $500 every day she is in custody after 30 days and $1,000 every day she is in custody after 60 days.

While coercive financial penalties are commonly assessed against corporate witnesses, which cannot be jailed for contempt, it is less usual to see them used against a human witness. 

In a sealed hearing, Judge Anthony Trenga heard arguments that this post-indictment subpoena should be quashed as an impermissible effort to compel Chelsea to participate in trial preparation, which is beyond the scope of the grand jury’s investigative function. 

Judge Trenga also heard arguments on whether Chelsea was subject to unlawful electronic surveillance, ultimately declining either to demand from the government further assurances on the matter, or to quash the subpoena. 

Prior to being held in contempt, Ms. Manning was heard in open court on her objections to the grand jury as a secret process that runs counter to her values. 

Today’s hearings took place exactly one week after her release, following 63 days of confinement, 28 days of which she spent in solitary confinement conditions, for refusal to testify before a seperate Grand Jury that sought answers to identical questions that were asked of her today. 

The motions and transcripts may be partially unsealed following review and redaction by the parties and the Court.

The following is a statement to the press from Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Attorney for Chelsea Manning:

“We are of course disappointed with the outcome of today’s hearing, but I anticipate it will be exactly as coercive as the previous sanction — which is to say not at all.

“In 2010 Chelsea made a principled decision to let the world see the true nature modern asymmetric warfare. It is telling that the United states has always been more concerned with the disclosure of those documents than with the damning substance of the disclosures.

“The American government relies on the informed consent of the governed, and the free press is the vigorous mechanism to keep us informed. It is a point of pride for this administration to be publicly hostile to the press. Grand Juries and prosecutions like this one broadcast an expanding threat to the press and function to undermine the integrity of the system according to the government’s own laws.

“This administration is also obsessed with undercutting the legacy of President Barack Obama, from reversing healthcare policy to Chelsea Manning’s commutation. 

“It is up to the press to stand up for themselves, to stand up for the practice of journalism, and to stand up for Chelsea in the same manner she has consistently stood up for the press.”

Note to editors

Chelsea Manning is represented by Moira Meltzer-Cohen, appellate attorney Vincent Ward, and local counsel Chris Leibig and Sandra Freeman.

Past Developments

1. May 16, 2019 – Statement from Chelsea Manning’s Legal Team Regarding Today’s Grand Jury Hearing:

2.  May 12, 2019 – Chelsea on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Brian Stelter:

3.  May 10, 2019– Chelsea’s video statement (with full transcription):

4.  May 9, 2019 – Statements from Chelsea and her legal team: Chelsea Manning Released from Alexandria Detention Center After Grand Jury Lapses:

5.  May 6, 2019 – Chelsea Manning and her Attorneys File Motion Declaring She will Never Cooperate with Grand Jury

6.  April 22, 2019 – Chelsea Manning and Her Attorneys Respond to 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling Affirming Contempt and Continuing Her Detention

7.  April 1, 2019 – Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Ask Court to Release Her, Pending Appeal, Citing Abuse of District Court Discretion

8.  March 29, 2019 – Lawyers for Chelsea Manning Ask Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to Void Charges of Civil Contempt

9.  March 23, 2019 – Lawyers and Supporters Condemn Chelsea Manning’s Ongoing Detention Under Solitary Confinement Conditions

10.  March 8, 2019 – Chelsea Manning’s Support Committee: Manning’s Detention for Refusal to Provide Grand Jury Testimony is Pointless, Punitive, and Cruel

11. March 6, 2019 – Statement from Chelsea Manning Regarding Grand Jury and Consequences Associated with Her Refusal

12. March 5, 2019 – Chelsea Manning Continues to Challenge Grand Jury Subpoena, Motion to Quash Denied, Remains Under Seal