Friday, May 24, 2019

‘I will not give up:’ Appeals court rejects Chelsea Manning’s bid for release

"While disappointing, we can still raise issues as the government continues to abuse the grand jury process."

Chelsea Manning remained in jail on Monday after a federal appeals court rejected her bid to be released and affirmed a lower court’s finding of contempt.

The whistleblower was sent to jail March 8, and has spent part of the detention in solitary confinement for contempt due to her refusal to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

“Appellant Manning argues on appeal that the district court improperly denied her motion concerning electronic surveillance, failed to properly address the issue of grand jury abuse, and improperly sealed the courtroom during substantial portions of the hearing,” the order from three judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit stated.

“Upon consideration of the memorandum briefs filed on appeal and the record of proceedings in the district court, the court finds no error in the district court’s rulings and affirms its finding of civil contempt. The court also denies appellant’s motion for release on bail,” it stated. 

The court order comes less than two weeks after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was forcibly removed from the Ecuadoran embassy in London and arrested by British police. As The Hill reported, the two cases are intertwined.

Legal experts have pointed to Manning’s current case as a sign that further charges could be filed against Assange, ahead of his extradition proceedings from the United Kingdom to the U.S.

“Prosecutors appear to be pressing for Manning’s testimony in order to bolster their case against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange,” wrote Politico‘s Josh Gerstein.

In a statement reacting to the appeals court decision, Manning said she’s pursuing the legal avenues she has—either appealing to the full panel of Fourth Circuit judges or to the Supreme Court.

“While disappointing, we can still raise issues as the government continues to abuse the grand jury process,” Manning said. “I don’t have anything to contribute to this, or any other grand jury.”

“While I miss home, they can continue to hold me in jail, with all the harmful consequences that brings. I will not give up,” she said. 

A member of Manning’s legal team, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, said the subpoena and prolonged detainment amounted to grand jury abuse.

“It is improper for a prosecutor to use the grand jury to prepare for trial. As pointed out in Ms. Manning’s motions and appeals, since her testimony is not necessary to the grand jury’s investigation, the likely purpose for her subpoena is to help the prosecutor preview and undermine her potential testimony as a defense witness for a pending trial.”

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