Chelsea Manning back in jail for refusing to testify before grand jury

Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning is seen speaking to reporters outside the U.S. federal courthouse in this frame grab from video taken shortly before she entered the coourthouse to appear before a federal judge regarding a federal gra

Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning is seen speaking to reporters outside the U.S. federal courthouse in this frame grab from video taken shortly before she entered the coourthouse to appear before a federal judge regarding a federal gra

Her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017.

In a move press freedom advocates and progressive critics decried as an "outrageous" and "unprecedented" escalation of a prolonged government harassment campaign, a federal judge on Thursday ordered U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning back to jail for refusing to testify before a secretive grand jury and imposed a $500 fine for every day she is in custody after 30 days. She was released May 9 when the grand jury's term expired, but was issued a second subpoena before the current grand jury.

Federal Judge Anthony Trenga rejected two motions submitted by Manning's lawyers to quash the subpoena and disclose any evidence of unlawful electronic surveillance by the government.

If she continued to refuse to testify after 60 days the fine would go up to $US1,000 a day, a law enforcement official and a spokesman for her attorneys said.

Manning told the judge, "The government can not build a prison bad enough, can not create a system worse than the idea that I would ever change my principles".

"I would rather starve to death than to change my opinions in this regard", she said.

"There's nothing dishonourable in discharging your responsibility as a United States citizen", Judge Trenga told her. "We have a lawfully predicated reason for seeking her testimony and will continue to do so", Terwilliger said.

"There's nothing new", Manning said Thursday during a press conference before her court hearing in Alexandria. "They didn't like the outcome - I got out".

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The former U.S. Army intelligence analyst returns to jail after being released May 9 because the grand jury term expired. Her refusal to testify in front of a secret grand jury on the grounds that they are undemocratic means she has now been taken into custody again until she changes her mind.

A judge found her in contempt and on March 8 she was jailed indefinitely.

Assange was indicted in April on a computer hacking charge for his role Manning's disclosure of those documents, a scheme the government called "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States".

Assange, now committed to a British prison for a year and also facing an extradition effort from Sweden, asserts that he is a journalist with the right to publish purloined secrets.

Justice Trenga was unimpressed with her rationale and noted that grand juries are embedded in the Constitution.

"The case doesn't make sense, it's very bananas", she said.

Prior to Thursday's hearing, Manning told the press: "I think that this is ultimately an attempt to place me back in confinement".

Concerns about resources for Manning's medical treatments and mental health at Alexandra were raised, though G. Zach Terwilliger, the USA attorney, said they have "bent over backwards to accommodate her needs".

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