Chelsea Manning says she won't testify in grand jury probe related to WikiLeaks, risking more jail time


Manning, who divulged massive amounts of information to WikiLeaks, had her sentence commuted Tuesday by President Obama. USA TODAY NETWORK

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. Army intelligence analyst who spent four years in prison for providing classified information to WikiLeaks, said Thursday that she will not cooperate with a grand jury investigation related to the anti-secrecy group, risking the threat of returning to jail. 

Manning’s lawyers have asked a judge to quash a subpoena that would force her to testify. Her attorneys also want the judge to order the government to disclose whether the government conducted electronic surveillance of her.

Manning was scheduled to appear before the grand jury at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday.

She said Monday afternoon that prosecutors were seeking to ask her “broad and generic” questions that she had already answered.

Manning was jailed for contempt in March after she refused to testify before the grand jury, saying she’s against the inquiry and she had already provided the government “extensive testimony” during her prosecution six years ago. She was released last week after the grand jury’s term expired. 

More: Chelsea Manning jailed for contempt after refusing to testify in WikiLeaks grand jury investigation

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Manning’s attorneys had previously declined to say what information the government is seeking. But last year, federal prosecutors in the same federal district court inadvertently disclosed in court documents that criminal charges had been filed under seal against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

The indictment against Assange was filed under seal in March 2018 and was made public last month, when Assange was arrested to face a conspiracy charge in the United States. Prosecutors alleged that Assange conspired with Manning to steal and publish a large cache of top-secret files from military computers. They said Assange helped Manning crack a password to access a Pentagon computer system.

Manning’s attorneys argued in their statement that compelling her to testify before the grand jury isn’t lawful, saying grand juries are intended only for investigative purposes and not to prepare for trial in the pending criminal case against Assange. 

More: Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder, faces US hacking conspiracy charge

Complicating the U.S. effort to try Assange is a separate prosecution in Sweden, where investigators have reopened a rape case over an incident that allegedly happened 10 years ago. Authorities in Sweden have also sought extradition.

Assange’s arrest last month came after nearly seven years of self-imposed exile inside the Embassy of Ecuador in London. He was forcibly taken into custody after Ecuadorian officials revoked his political asylum. The 47-year-old Australian national sought asylum in the embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in the rape case.

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

Contributing: Kevin Johnson, Bart Jansen and Kim Hjelmgaard

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