Moments ago, Chelsea Manning was taken into custody for refusing to testify before a grand jury. The judge ordered her to be held, “until she purges or the end of the life of the grand jury.” It is widely believed that the grand jury pertains to a sealed indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. According to Manning, the only questions asked of her were about her role in disclosing information to WikiLeaks in 2010.
Manning is a whistleblower, a truth teller, and a hero. Yet, for making the American people aware of crimes committed by their government in their name the US government has repeatedly persecuted her.
Following her arrest in 2010, she was held in pretrial detention conditions that amounted to torture. Even though she pled guilty to ten separate charges relating to the improper handling and unauthorized disclosure of classified information, the US government still pursued a court martial against Manning for violations of the Espionage Act and “aiding the enemy.” Manning was acquitted in a military court of the most ridiculous charge, aiding the enemy, but she was convicted under the Espionage Act.
Manning was sentenced to an unheard of 35 year sentence for giving information to the media. Throughout her confinement in a US military prison, Manning was continuously subjected to abusive and degrading treatment. When her sentence was finally commuted, after public mobilization, she had spent seven years behind bars. That is the longest amount of time that anyone has ever served for giving information to the media.
On January 17, 2011, Defending Rights & Dissent organized a protest at the Quantico Military Base demanding Manning’s freedom. Having organized the earliest known protest for Manning’s freedom, we are deeply disturbed that our government is incarcerating Manning yet again.
Chelsea Manning is a hero who has suffered immensely, because she believed the American people had a right to know what their government did overseas. In her own words, she saw her actions as, “removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.”
The government’s latest jailing of Manning, which is part of larger attempt to erode press freedoms, is outrageous.
We stand with Chelsea Manning and call for her unconditional release.