Chelsea Manning: Whistleblower's lawyers claim her imprisonment is illegal and demand release

Graig Graziosi
Chelsea Manning has repeatedly refused to testify against Wikileaks or Julian Assange: Getty

Chelsea Manning’s lawyers have renewed their fight to once again free the whistleblower from prison.

Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Ms Manning’s attorney, filed a motion with an eastern district federal court calling for her release after nearly a year of imprisonment, according to a report in The Guardian.

Ms Manning has been incarcerated in the Alexandria detention center after refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.

For every day that Ms Manning refuses to cooperate with the grand jury, she is being fined $1,000. Her total fine is currently around $230,000.

Prior to her current incarceration, Ms Manning - a former US Army soldier - was in prison for seven years until her 35 year sentence was commuted in 2017. Ms Manning had been convicted of 17 of the 22 charges brought against her for her involvement in a leak of troves of classified US documents.

At the time, the sentence levied against Ms Manning was called “unjust and unfair” by the Guardian and “excessive” by the New York Times.

Nils Melzer, the UN’s special rapporteur on torture, said Ms Manning’s current incarceration and fining was a form of torture.

Ms Meltzer-Cohen has filed for Ms Manning’s release, calling her incarceration an illegal use of a “punitive sanction.” The attorney is arguing that the punishment serves no purpose as Ms Manning will never be coerced into testifying.

“Over the last decade, Chelsea Manning has shown unwavering resolve in the face of censure, punishment and even threats of violence. As Ms Manning’s resolve not to testify has been unwavering, and as her moral conviction has become only more developed since her confinement, her incarceration is not serving its only permissible purpose,” the motion stated.

Ms Manning has made her position on grand juries clear in past statements, explaining that she refused to testify due to her “long standing believe 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. No matter how much you punish me, I will remain confident in my decision.”

Mr Assange, who is currently being held in a prison in London, is facing extradition to the US following indictment by a grand jury on 18 charges relating to his possession of secret US government and military documents.

Wednesday, Mr Assange’s lawyers said that President Donald Trump - by way of former Congressman Dana Rohrabaher - offered the arch whistleblower a pardon if he agreed to cover up Russia’ involvement in hacking the Democratic National Committee’s emails.

The White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham denied the allegations.

“The President barley knows Dana Rohrabacher other than he’s an ex-congressman. He’s never spoken to him on this subject or almost any subject. It is a complete fabrication and a total lie.”