Chelsea Manning has been released from a US prison after 62 days of incarceration. Her “crime” was refusing to testify before a secret grand jury over matters that could compromise the safety of individuals involved with Wikileaks including and especially Julian Assange.
Due to her refusal to testify, she was sentenced to a term in prison that would expire only if Manning decided to testify or otherwise, when the grand jury and concluded its work. The particular grand jury whose session was the proximate “justification” for Manning’s imprisonment has just concluded and therefore Manning has been released. However, a new grand jury seeking Manning’s testimony is set to begin in less than a week. This could mean that Manning will likely face the grim prospect of going back into prison due to her on the record remarks detailing her principled stand to defend press freedom and the rights of journalists. Far from receiving the genuine freedom she deserves, a temporary reprieve from prison before likely going straight back to the same prison cell is not freedom at all – it is a form of psychological torture.
Upon leaving prison, Manning made a short but highly poignant video addressed to the wider world. The full transcript along with the original images can be read and viewed below:
Two months ago, the federal government summoned me before a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia.
As a general principle, I object to grand juries.
Prosecutors run grand juries behind closed doors and in secret, without a judge present.
Therefore, I declined to cooperate or answer any questions.
Based on my refusal to answer questions, District Court Judge Hilton ordered me held in contempt until the grand jury ended.
Yesterday, the grand jury expired, and I left the Alexandria Detention Center.
Throughout this ordeal, an incredible spring of solidarity and love boiled over. I received thousands of letters, including dozens to hundreds of them a day.
This means the world to me, and keeps me going.
Jail and prisons exist as a dark stain on our society, with more people confined in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world.
During my time, I spent 28 days in solitary confinement–a traumatic experience I already endured for a year in prison before.
Only a few months before reincarceration, I recieved gender confirmation surgery.
This left my body vulnerable to injury and infection, leading to possible complications that I am now seeking treatment for.
My absence severely hampers both my public and private life.
The law requires that civil contempt only be used to coerce witnesses to testify.
As I cannot be coerced, it instead exists as an additional punishment on top of the seven years I served.
Last week, I handwrote a statement outlining the fact I will never agree to testify before this or any other grand jury.
Several of my closest family, friends and colleagues supported this fact.
Our statements were filed in court.
The government knows I can’t be coerced.
When I arrive at the courthouse this coming Thursday, what happened last time will occur again.
I will not cooperate with this or any other grand jury.
Throughout the last decade, I accepted full responsibity for my actions.
Facing jail again, this week, does not change this fact.
The prosecutors deliberately place me in an impossible situation: I either go to jail, or turn my back on my prisons.
The truth is, the government can construct no prison worse than to betray my conscience or my principles.
Thank you, and good night”.