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Chelsea Manning jailed for refusing to testify to jury on WikiLeaks

WASHINGTON – Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who spent four years in prison for providing information to WikiLeaks, was jailed Friday after she refused to testify before a grand jury investigating the anti-secrecy group. 

U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton ordered Manning into custody following a brief hearing that was partially closed to the public. Manning had warned that she objected to the grand jury’s inquiry and said she would refuse to cooperate.

“In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles,” Manning said in a statement before Friday’s hearing. “I will exhaust every legal remedy available.” 

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for her role in leaking a cache of classified government material to WikiLeaks. Her case attracted heightened attention because of her status as a transgender soldier; at the time she was known as Bradley Manning. President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in 2017.

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In refusing to testify this week, Manning claimed that she had already provided the government “extensive testimony” during her 2013 prosecution.

Manning’s attorney, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, declined to comment Friday on the information the government is seeking.

But last year, federal prosecutors in the same Virginia district inadvertently disclosed in court documents that criminal charges had been filed under seal against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange,

 Assange, fearing arrest, has been living in exile in London’s Ecuadoran embassy since 2012.

On Friday, Manning’s lawyers asked that she be confined at home to accommodate her medical needs and ensure her safety, but Hilton rejected that request. Manning was sent to a jail in Alexandria, Virginia. 

Meltzer-Cohen said Manning could be held for up 18 months, which represents the typical length of a grand jury term.

“We were every concerned and remain concerned that a jail or prison is not equipped to handle” Manning’s needs, Meltzer-Cohen said. “I think we all know that a lot of things could go wrong.”

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