All posts by Sparrow

Statement from Chelsea Manning’s Support Team Regarding Assange Indictment and Punitive Nature of Chelsea’s Continued Detention

Statement from Chelsea Manning’s Support Team Regarding Assange Indictment and Punitive Nature of Chelsea’s Continued Detention

Alexandria, VA — Today, Chelsea Manning’s legal team will file a reply brief in their appeal asking the Fourth Circuit to vacate District Court Judge Hilton’s March 8 finding of civil contempt. Ms. Manning, a staunch advocate for government transparency, asserted legal grounds for her refusal to participate in what she views as an assault on the free press. She remains in detention as a result of the contempt finding. The Assange indictment disclosed this morning strengthens their claims of grand jury abuse, say Manning’s attorneys.

“The indictment against Julian Assange unsealed today was obtained a year to the day before Chelsea appeared before the grand jury and refused to give testimony. The fact that this indictment has existed for over a year underscores what Chelsea’s legal team and Chelsea herself have been saying since she was first issued a subpoena to appear in front of a Federal Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Virginia — that compelling Chelsea to testify would have been duplicative of evidence already in the possession of the grand jury, and was not needed in order for US Attorneys to obtain an indictment of Mr. Assange.  Grand Juries may not be used for the sole and dominant purpose of preparing for trial, including questioning potential trial witnesses. Since her testimony can no longer contribute to a grand jury investigation, Chelsea’s ongoing detention can no longer be seriously alleged to constitute an attempt to coerce her testimony. As continued detention would be purely punitive, we demand Chelsea be released.”

Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Ask Court to Release Her, Pending Appeal, Citing Abuse of District Court Discretion

Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Ask Court to Release Her, Pending Appeal, Citing Abuse of District Court Discretion

Alexandria, VA — Today, Chelsea Manning’s legal team asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to release her from jail, pending her appeal because the District Court failed to consider evidence that would excuse her from having to give testimony before the grand jury.

Ms. Manning was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia in early March. She asserted that answering questions before the grand jury would violate her constitutional and statutory rights. Without commenting on Ms. Manning’s arguments, District Court Judge Claude Hilton ordered her confined for the term of the grand jury, or until she agrees to give testimony. Ms. Manning appealed the ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit on Friday March, 29th, and now asks for bail pending determination of the appeal. Release must be granted as long as the appeal is neither frivolous nor a delay tactic.

Ms. Manning has been held in “administrative segregation” at the Alexandria Detention Center since March 8, 2019, under conditions that amount to prolonged solitary confinement, something Juan Mendez, former UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, has said “must be absolutely prohibited, because it always amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and may even constitute torture.”

A witness may be civilly confined in order to coerce cooperation with the grand jury, but may not be punished. Since the conditions of her confinement have now become punitive, Ms. Manning contends, the Circuit should order her release.

According to Ms. Manning’s attorney, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, “This is the strongest appeal of a grand jury contempt I have ever seen, and so release ought to be granted. The lower court acted without considering clear legal mandates and this error, including the denial of release, must be corrected in the appellate court.”

Lawyers for Chelsea Manning Ask Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to Void Charges of Civil Contempt

Lawyers for Chelsea Manning Ask Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to Void Charges of Civil Contempt

Alexandria, VA — Today Chelsea Manning’s attorneys asked the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate (void) District Court Judge Hilton’s finding of civil contempt. The following is a statement from Chelsea Resists!, Chelsea Manning’s Support Committee, regarding today’s filing:

“Chelsea’s legal team is asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate (void) District Court Judge Hilton’s finding of civil contempt, for three main reasons:

“1) Because it would appear that Judge Hilton denied Chelsea’s motion asking the government to disclose the existence of any unlawful surveillance without actually considering the evidence. Rarely does a judge deny a motion without doing so explicitly or making any actual rulings or statements about any of the legal issues brought before the court.

“Judge Hilton didn’t question the government about any of the issues or facts raised in the electronic surveillance motion. He did not even ask the government to make simple affirmations or denials regarding whether it was aware that electronic surveillance had occurred, although the law requires that the government make such denials once a “colorable claim” is raised.

“These questions about surveillance are especially important because any evidence derived from unlawful surveillance may not be used in a grand jury, and the existence of such surveillance would excuse Chelsea from having to testify before the grand jury.

“2) Because the Judge failed to demand even minimal assurances that the subpoena was properly motivated, despite ample evidence of abuse.

“The proper purpose of the grand jury is to investigate federal crimes, and if justified, issue indictments. Prosecutors may not use the grand jury for the primary purpose of preparing for trial of an already-secured indictment. Chelsea raised concerns that the government did not need her testimony to further their investigation, and that rather they intended to use the subpoena to preview and perhaps undermine any testimony she might give at trial for an already-pending indictment. This would be an abuse of process which would excuse her testimony. If the purpose of the subpoena was improper, it should have never been issued in the first place.

“The District Court Judge should have considered these arguments, and elicited confirmation of proper purpose from the government. He did not consider the facts or the law on this motion, and the finding of contempt should therefore be reversed.

“3) Because significant portions of the contempt hearing were held in a closed courtroom in violation of Chelsea’s 5th and 6th Amendment rights to a public trial, and the Government has not given any good reasons for keeping the proceedings secret.

“Remember that even though Chelsea has not been convicted or even accused of a crime, she is still being held in conditions that amount to solitary confinement. We hope at the very least that the Fourth Circuit will release her during the appeal process, on the basis that her so-called civil confinement has been transformed into punishment, which is not legally permissible.

“It is important to remember that Chelsea is currently being subjected to a form of imprisonment that arises to the level that the UN and many other experts consider to be torturous which is especially egregious given that Chelsea has not been charged with or convicted of a crime.”

Statement from Chelsea Manning Regarding Grand Jury and Consequences Associated with Her Refusal

Statement from Chelsea Manning Regarding Grand Jury and Consequences Associated with Her Refusal

Alexandria, VA — On Wednesday March 6, 2019 Chelsea Manning appeared before a Federal Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) and refused to answer questions from prosecutors regarding the release of information she disclosed to the public in 2010.  Chelsea invoked her 1st, 4th, and 6th Amendment protections to provide just cause for her refusal.  On Friday March 8, 2019 Chelsea will return to the court for a hearing wherein Judge Hilton will consider the legal grounds for her refusal.  The following is a statement from Chelsea Manning regarding the Grand Jury and the possible consequences associated with her refusal:

“On Friday, I will return to federal court in Alexandria, Virginia for a closed contempt hearing. A judge will consider the legal grounds for my refusal to answer questions in front of a grand jury. The court may find me in contempt, and order me to jail.

“Yesterday, I appeared before a secret grand jury after being given immunity for my testimony. All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010—answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013. I responded to each question with the following statement: ‘I object to the question and refuse to answer on the grounds that the question is in violation of my First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.’

“In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available. My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.”

Chelsea Manning is represented by Moira Meltzer-Cohen, appellate attorney Vincent Ward, and local counsel Chris Leibig and Sandra Freeman.

All are encouraged to support Chelsea any way they can.  To learn more about Chelsea Resists or to donate to Chelsea’s legal defense visit: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/chelsea-manning-needs-legal-funds-to-resist-a-grand-jury-subpoena

Questions regarding Chelsea Manning’s support committee should be directed to ChelseaResists@protonmail.com

Chelsea Manning Continues to Challenge Grand Jury Subpoena, Motion to Quash Denied, Remains Under Seal

Chelsea Manning Continues to Challenge Grand Jury Subpoena, Motion to Quash Denied, Remains Under Seal


Punitive Risks from Opaque Grand Jury Echo Trump Administration Resentment Towards Manning and President Obama’s Decision to Commute her Sentence

Alexandria, VA — This morning a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA) denied a motion filed by Chelsea Manning’s attorneys to quash a subpoena compelling grand jury testimony from Chelsea.  Chelsea and her attorneys plan to utilize every available avenue to challenge this subpoena. Chelsea has been compelled to come back to court tomorrow. Following today’s events Chelsea’s support committee, Chelsea Resists!, has issued a solidarity statement:

“Today we stand in solidarity with Chelsea Manning, and her fight against the dangerous and undemocratic grand jury system. Grand juries operate in secret, allowing the government to retaliate against activists and dissidents behind closed doors.

“This case is no exception. By demanding that Chelsea testify and keeping the basic facts of this grand jury under seal, the government today denied the public’s right to see this oppressive process in the light of day.

“Donald Trump and his administration have publicly declared their disdain for Chelsea, and for President Obama’s decision to commute her sentence. Chelsea has stood by the testimony from her 2013 court martial, and this subpoena serves no legitimate purpose. It is a punitive effort to reverse Obama’s legacy, exposing Chelsea to legal hardship and possible imprisonment.

“Even further, this case has profound 1st Amendment implications. It threatens to erode the rights of journalists who publish information in the public interest. The grand jury could also subject Chelsea’s activist networks to intrusive surveillance for engaging in lawfully-protected activity.

“By challenging this subpoena, Chelsea joins dozens of activists who have refused to jeopardize themselves and their communities. After seven years of imprisonment and torture, Chelsea has suffered enough. We demand an end to this vindictive fishing expedition, and the abolition of the repressive grand jury system. #LeaveChelseaAlone!”

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Chelsea Manning is represented by Moira Meltzer-Cohen, appellate attorney Vincent Ward, and local counsel Chris Leibig and Sandra Freeman.

All are encouraged to support Chelsea any way they can.  To learn more about Chelsea Resists or to donate to Chelsea’s legal defense visit: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/chelsea-manning-needs-legal-funds-to-resist-a-grand-jury-subpoena

Questions regarding Chelsea Manning’s support committee should be directed to ChelseaResists@protonmail.com