Tag Archives: United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Legal Team Files Motion to Release Chelsea Manning

Legal Team Files Motion to Release Chelsea Manning

Alexandria, VA — Today, attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen filed a Motion to Release Chelsea Manning, based on evidence, including an expert’s assessment of Chelsea’s personality profile, and a public condemnation of her “coercive confinement” by Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 

Ms. Manning has now been incarcerated at Alexandria Detention Center for nearly a year, due to her principled refusal to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the publishers of her 2010 disclosures. She may be held for up to 18 months or until she agrees to cooperate. She is also fined $1,000 for each day she refuses to testify, those fines now total approximately $230,000.

According to Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Ms. Manning’s attorney:

“A witness who refuses to cooperate with a grand jury subpoena may be held in contempt of court, and fined or incarcerated. The only permissible purpose for sanctions under the civil contempt statute is to coerce a witness to comply with the subpoena. If compliance is impossible, either because the grand jury is no longer in existence, or because the witness is incoercible, then confinement has been transformed from a coercive into a punitive sanction, and thus is in violation of the law.”

As Ms. Manning explains: 

“My refusal to testify continues, predicated on my long standing belief that grand juries, as they function in the contemporary era, are often used by federal prosecutors to harass and disrupt political opponents and activists through secrecy, coercion, and jailing without trial. 

“My own current confinement reinforces my belief in their tendency to be abused in practice. I cannot agree to participate in such a process. No matter how much you punish me, I will remain confident in my decision. I have been separated from my loved ones, deprived of sunlight, and could not even attend my mother’s funeral. It is easier to endure these hardships now than to cooperate to win back some comfort, and live the rest of my life knowing that I acted out of self interest and not principle.” 

Today’s filing includes a personality assessment by Dr. Sara Boyd, suggesting that Ms. Manning is constitutionally incapable of acting against her conscience. “Ms. Manning exhibits long standing personality features that relate to her scrupulousness, her persistence and dedication, and her willingness to endure social disapproval as well as formal punishments,” it reads. “Ms. Manning … has not wavered in this decision-making regarding cooperation for the past [eleven] months and she did not make any statements indicating that… there was any information that could be provided to her that would change her mind.” This report provides yet more evidence that Ms. Manning will not be moved by confinement, and must therefore be released. 

Also included in the brief is a letter dated November 1, 2019, from U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, who concludes that the practice of coercive confinement constitutes “torture” in violation of international laws ratified by the United States. S.R. Melzer recommends that Chelsea be released “without further delay” and that her fines be “cancelled or reimbursed” since they are impermissibly punitive, being “disproportionate to the gravity of any offence she may have committed.”

“The key issue before Judge Trenga is whether continued incarceration could persuade Chelsea to testify,” said Ms. Meltzer-Cohen. “Judges have complained of the ‘perversity’ of this law: that a witness may win their freedom by persisting in their contempt of court. However, should Judge Trenga agree that Chelsea will never agree to testify, he will be compelled by the law to order her release.

“The evidence overwhelmingly supports the claim we have made from the beginning: Ms. Manning cannot be pressured into betraying her principles. If her confinement is not having a coercive impact, it has exceeded its permissible scope, and Ms. Manning must be released.”

Many organizations have come out in support of Chelsea and her principled stance, including: Amnesty International, Fight for the Future, Internet Archive, Defending Rights & Dissent, Media Alliance, Oakland Privacy, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Queerious Labs, Demand Progress, RootsAction, and Lucy Parsons Labs. Likewise, many friends and family made public statements or submitted letters of support to the judge in her case, Judge Anthony Trenga, including:  Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Stipe, Thurston Moore and many others.

As of the time of this statement, a petition launched by Fight for the Future at FreeChelsea.com demanding that Chelsea be released has garnered a significant demonstration of public support, with more than 60,000 signatures

For more information, Frequently Asked Questions, Legal Precedents, and a complete archive of statements from Chelsea, including her letter to Judge Anthony Trenga explaining the history of Grand juries and her objections to them, see the new website at ReleaseChelsea.com.

A Note to Editors

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


Motion to Release Chelsea Manning https://www.releasechelsea.com/resources/legal_documents/motion_to_release

More than 60,000 people call for judge to release Chelsea Manning, Press Release  https://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/190901492383/more-than-60000-people-call-for-judge-to-release

What’s the difference between coercive and punitive incarceration? https://www.releasechelsea.com/faq/b/

How does a judge determine whether a witness is incoercible?  https://www.releasechelsea.com/faq/c/

What factors are used by the judge to make an “individualized determination” regarding the intransigence of the witness? https://www.releasechelsea.com/faq/d/

How have grand juries and contempt sanctions been used or abused in the past? https://www.releasechelsea.com/faq/g/

Chelsea Manning Responds to United Nations Rapporteur’s Call For Her Release – UN Special Rapporteur on Torture: Release Chelsea Manning immediately, January 2, 2020 https://www.sparrowmedia.net/2020/01/chelsea-manning-responds-to-united-nations-rapporteurs-call-for-her-release/

Letter to the US Government: Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, by Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, November 1, 2019

Executive Summary: Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Release, by Kelly Wright (Motion filed May 6, 2019) https://www.releasechelsea.com/resources/executive-summary/

Organizations Supporting Chelsea Manning https://www.releasechelsea.com/organizations_supporting_chelsea/

Individuals Supporting Chelsea Manning  https://www.releasechelsea.com/individuals_supporting_chelsea

Indigenous Activists will Confront Imperial Metals at Annual General Meeting

Indigenous Activists will Confront Imperial Metals at Annual General Meeting

Vancouver, BC — Indigenous delegates and tribal allies will be confronting Imperial Metals at their Annual General Meeting at the Executive Plaza Hotel Coquitlam, 405 North Road, Coquitlam, British Columbia at 8 a.m. on Thursday, May 25, 2017.

“It is clear that there are major human rights and Indigenous rights violations happening within Canada and within our unceded Secwepemc Territory,” says Secwepemc land protector, Kanahus Manuel. “This is especially the case with the Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley mine disaster. The August 2014 tailings pond spill desecrated and destroyed a Sacred area known as Yuct Ne Senxiymetkwe in unceded Secwepemc Territory.  The spill has not yet been cleaned up and because of BC’s shoddy mine regulations, the company is now discharging toxic mine wastes directly into Quesnel Lake.”

The Indigenous delegates will warn the Imperial Metals investors they should be aware of the very serious concerns regarding the Mount Polley mine, and the financial risks in investing in poorly run companies like Imperial Metals.

A aerial view shows the damage caused by a tailings pond breach near the town of Likely, B.C. Tuesday, August, 5, 2014. The pond which stores toxic waste from the Mount Polley Mine had its dam break spilling its contents into the Hazeltine Creek causing a wide water-use ban in the area. | Photo: Jonathan Hayward

While the company’s shareholders and executives are meeting, the United Nations Working Group for business and human rights is on their first official visit to Canada and will be visiting Williams Lake to investigate Imperial Metals. They will be hearing Indigenous testimonials about the effects of the Mount Polley Mine disaster, and of the continued violations of Human Rights by Canada and Canadian resource extractions companies.

The UN Human Rights Council set up the UN Working Group for business and human rights to address the rights violations often associated with extractive industries. Imperial Metals investors must be made aware of the fact that the whole world is watching them and their actions.

Collective Indigenous consent has never been achieved by Imperial Metals Corporation for any of their operations across British Columbia and there are multiple legal proceedings going on against the company. Imperial Metals has also been met with continued direct actions, disruptions and confrontation from Indigenous Peoples, with mine roads blockaded and their Vancouver headquarters occupied.

The Indigenous land defenders action is being carried out under the legal protection of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), which states that Indigenous peoples have the right to block development on their land that was undertaken without their free, prior and informed consent.