[Pnews] Chelsea Manning Ordered Free From Prison — but Will Still Have to Pay Massive Fines

Prisoner News ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Mar 13 12:31:13 EDT 2020


  Chelsea Manning Ordered Free From Prison

Natasha Lennard - March 12, 2020

Chelsea Manning, a former United States Army soldier who was convicted 
by court-martial in July 2013 of violations of the Espionage Act and 
other offenses, after disclosing to WikiLeaks nearly 750,000 classified, 
or unclassified but sensitive, military and diplomatic documents. 
Photographed in Washington DC.

Chelsea Manning, photographed in Washington, D.C., in January 2018.

Photo: Jesse Dittmar/Redux

_On Thursday afternoon,_

a District Court judge in Virginia ordered 
<https://twitter.com/theappeal/status/1238211307389751296/photo/1> that 
Chelsea Manning be released from jail, where she has been held since 
last May for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

The ruling itself is striking in what it fails to recognize. “The court 
finds Ms. Manning’s appearance before the Grand Jury is no longer 
needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive 
purpose,” the judge noted. The fact that the coercive purpose of 
Manning’s detention had long been shown to be absent — Manning has 
proven herself incoercible beyond any doubt — was not mentioned. Nor was 
the fact that on Wednesday, Manning attempted suicide 
It was the most absolute evidence that she could not be coerced: She 
would sooner die.

    She endured months of extreme suffering, driving her to near death,
    but never wavered on her principled refusal to speak.

While Manning’s release is vastly long overdue and most welcome, the 
framing and timing of the decision are galling. On Friday, Manning was 
scheduled to appear at a court hearing on a motion 
to end her continued imprisonment, predicated on her unshakeable 
resistance proving coercion to be impossible, and her incarceration 
therefore illegal. She endured months of extreme suffering, driving her 
to near death, but never wavered on her principled refusal to speak.

The day before this hearing — and the day after she made an attempt on 
her own life — the judge ruled that Manning is “no longer needed” by the 
grand jury. The court did not recognize that she is incoercible, nor 
that her detainment had become punitive. Indeed, a profoundly punitive 
element of her treatment will remain, even after her release: The judge 
denied a motion to vacate the exorbitant fines Manning faces. She owes 
the state $256,000, which she is expected to pay, even though the fines 
were only accrued on the condition that they might coerce her to speak.

Again and again, Manning and her legal team showed that her imprisonment 
was nothing but punitive, and thus unjustifiable under the legal 
statutes governing federal grand juries. Yet for nearly a year, Manning 
has been caged and fined $1,000 per day. Ever since she was subpoenaed 
to testify before the grand jury, which is investigating WikiLeaks, 
Manning has also insisted that there was never any justifiable purpose 
to asking her to testify.

As her support committee noted 
in a statement last May, “Chelsea gave voluminous testimony during her 
court martial. She has stood by the truth of her prior statements, and 
there is no legitimate purpose to having her rehash them before a 
hostile grand jury.”

For the court to admit, after nearly a year of torturous treatment, that 
further testimony from her is unnecessary adds insult to very real injury.

The government’s treatment of Manning has been putrid and continues to 
be — especially as she remains under the yoke of state-enforced 
financial ruin. For her unwavering resistance to government oppression, 
in the name of social justice struggle and press freedom, Manning is 
owed our deepest admiration and all the support 
we can muster.

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