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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.”

Lawyers and Supporters Condemn Chelsea Manning’s Ongoing Detention Under Solitary Confinement Conditions

Lawyers and Supporters Condemn Chelsea Manning’s Ongoing Detention Under Solitary Confinement Conditions

Alexandria, VA — The following is a statement from Chelsea Resists!, Chelsea Manning’s Support Committee:

“We condemn the solitary confinement that Chelsea Manning has been subjected to during her incarceration at William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center.

“Since her arrival at Truesdale on March 8th, Chelsea has been placed in administrative segregation[1], or ‘adseg,’ a term designed to sound less cruel than “solitary confinement.” However, Chelsea has been kept in her cell for 22 hours a day. This treatment qualifies as Solitary Confinement[2].

Chelsea has been kept in her cell for 22 hours a day. This treatment qualifies as Solitary Confinement

“Chelsea can’t be out of her cell while any other prisoners are out, so she cannot talk to other people, or visit the law library, and has no access to books or reading material. She has not been outside for 16 days. She is permitted to make phone calls and move about outside her cell between 1 and 3 a.m..  

“As today is Day 16, Chelsea is now in “Prolonged Solitary,” as defined by Juan Mendez, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture:[3]    

“I have defined prolonged solitary confinement as any period in excess of 15 days. This definition reflects the fact that most of the scientific literature shows that, after 15 days, certain changes in brain functions occur and the harmful psychological effects of isolation can become irreversible. Prolonged solitary confinement must be absolutely prohibited, because it always amounts to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and may even constitute torture…”

“The jail says keeping ‘high-profile’ prisoners in adseg is policy for the protection of all prisoners, but there is no reason to believe jail officials view Chelsea as either a target or a risk. If Truesdale wants to prioritize Chelsea’s health and welfare, as they consistently claim, then they should make sure she is able to have contact with other people in the jail.

“We have worked to monitor Chelsea’s well-being since her arrival at Truesdale. In her first week she contracted a bacterial infection which has since been resolved by antibiotics. More recently, she experienced the shift between the prolonged under stimulation of 22-hour lock-down and a 45-minute social visit as so jarring that she threw up.

“Although the facility has accommodated Chelsea’s medical needs, including hormone medications and daily post-surgery treatment, keeping her under these conditions for over 15 days amounts to torture, possibly in an attempt to coerce her into compliance with the Grand Jury. The Mendez Report notes this tactic: ‘I have observed that solitary confinement … is often used as a deliberate method to obtain information or confessions. In such conditions, confinement amounts to a coercive tool and constitutes a cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and possibly torture.’[4]    

“Chelsea is a principled person, and she has made clear that while this kind of treatment will harm her, and will almost certainly leave lasting scars, it will never make her change her mind about cooperating with the grand jury.

“It bears repeating that while solitary confinement should not be used for anyone, it is especially immoral to place Chelsea in solitary, when she has not been accused of, charged with, nor convicted of any new crime.

“We call upon the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center to remove Chelsea from “Administrative Segregation” and these conditions which effectively constitute solitary confinement immediately.”

References


[1] https://ia601507.us.archive.org/0/items/AdministrativeSegregation-Alexandria/Administrative-Segregation.pdf

[2]http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/JuanMendezPrefaceSourcebookOnSolitaryConfinementTranslation2014.pdf

[3]http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/JuanMendezPrefaceSourcebookOnSolitaryConfinementTranslation2014.pdf

[4]http://solitaryconfinement.org/uploads/JuanMendezPrefaceSourcebookOnSolitaryConfinementTranslation2014.pdf


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