Update: After an hour long closed door hearing , Judge Claude M. Hilton blocked Chelsea Manning’s bid to unseal the proceedings and her motion to quash the subpoena.
Supporters of Chelsea Manning braved a chilly morning to gather outside the US District Courthouse for the Eastern District of Virginia. Manning was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury, but has vowed to fight the subpoena. Manning, along with her counsel famed civil rights attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen, filed a motion to quash the subpoena.
As Manning told supporters and journalists outside the courthouse, “We have good reason to believe the subpoena is improper.” However, the motion to quash is sealed and thus so are Manning’s reason for believing the subpoena to be improper. Manning explained that the first fight was to get the motion unsealed and to make the hearing on the motion open to the public
Manning stated she did not know beyond speculation what the grand jury was about. It has been widely assumed that the grandy jury pertains to the sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. If true, that would mean the Trump Administration was moving to prosecute Assange for publishing classified information, something that would set a precedent to allow the Justice Department to after other media outlets, such as the New York Times.
Manning heroically leaked information about US government misconduct, including war crimes. As a result, she was sentenced to unprecedented 35 year in prison as part of a larger crackdown on whistleblowers. Obama commuted her sentence after seven years of incarceration, but by that time Manning had already spent more time in prison than anyone else for giving information to the media.
While the Obama Administration started a war on whistleblowers, it declined to prosecute Assange or WikiLeaks viewing such a move as step too far in eroding press freedom. The Trump Administration has escalated the war on whistleblowers and it seems possible they are moving from prosecuting not only people who provide classified information to the media, but media sources who publish it.