Tag Archives: appeal

Chelsea Manning and Her Attorneys Respond to 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling Affirming Contempt and Continuing Her Detention

Chelsea Manning and Her Attorneys Respond to 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling Affirming Contempt and Continuing Her Detention

Alexandria, VA — This morning, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the District Court’s finding of contempt and denied Chelsea Manning’s motion for release on bail.

Neither decision included any legal reasoning or explanation for the Court’s conclusions.

Ms. Manning is now contemplating other post-contempt remedies including an appeal to the whole panel of Fourth Circuit judges (called an “En Banc” panel) or to the Supreme Court.

“While disappointing, we can still raise issues as the government continues to abuse the grand jury process. I don’t have anything to contribute to this, or any other grand jury. While I miss home, they can continue to hold me in jail, with all the harmful consequences that brings. I will not give up. Thank you all so very much for your love and solidarity through letters and contributions.”

Moira Meltzer-Cohen, of Ms. Manning’s legal team, explained why Chelsea’s subpoena and confinement should be considered grand jury abuse:

“We are of course disappointed that the Circuit declined to follow clearly established law, or consider the ample evidence of grand jury abuse. 

“It is improper for a prosecutor to use the grand jury to prepare for trial. As pointed out in Ms. Manning’s motions and appeals, since her testimony is not necessary to the grand jury’s investigation, the likely purpose for her subpoena is to help the prosecutor preview and undermine her potential testimony as a defense witness for a pending trial. 

“We believed that the Appeals court would consider this, as it is strong evidence of an abuse of grand jury power that should excuse her testimony.”

In February, 2019, Chelsea Manning was subpoenaed to give testimony before a grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of Virginia. On March 5, she moved District Court Judge Claude Hilton to quash the subpoena on a number of legal grounds, but her motions were denied.

After refusing to answer questions before the grand jury, Chelsea was found in civil contempt of court and conveyed to the Alexandria Detention Center on March 8. She has remained in confinement since that time, enduring medical hardships and prolonged isolation.

During her confinement she appealed Judge Hilton’s finding of contempt, asserting legal justifications for her refusal to cooperate with the grand jury. Today’s rulings conclude the first phase of appeals.

Note to editors


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

Past developments


1.  April 1, 2019 – Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Ask Court to Release Her, Pending Appeal, Citing Abuse of District Court Discretion https://www.sparrowmedia.net/2019/04/chelsea-mannings-lawyers-ask-fourth-circuit-to-release-her-pending-appeal/

2. March 29, 2019 – Lawyers for Chelsea Manning Ask Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to Void Charges of Civil Contempt https://www.sparrowmedia.net/2019/03/chelsea-manning-grand-jury-appeal/

3. March 23, 2019 – Lawyers and Supporters Condemn Chelsea Manning’s Ongoing Detention Under Solitary Confinement Conditions https://www.sparrowmedia.net/2019/03/lawyers-and-supporters-condemn-chelsea-mannings-ongoing-detention-under-solitary-confinement-conditions/

4. March 8, 2019 – Chelsea Manning’s Support Committee: Manning’s Detention for Refusal to Provide Grand Jury Testimony is Pointless, Punitive, and Cruel http://www.balestramedia.com/chelsea-press-releases/2019/3/8/chelsea-mannings-support-committee-mannings-detention-for-refusal-to-provide-grand-jury-testimony-is-pointless-punitive-and-cruel

5. March 6, 2019 – Statement from Chelsea Manning Regarding Grand Jury and Consequences Associated with Her Refusal https://www.sparrowmedia.net/2019/03/statement-from-chelsea-manning-regarding-grand-jury-and-consequences-associated-with-her-refusal/

6. March 5, 2019 – Chelsea Manning Continues to Challenge Grand Jury Subpoena, Motion to Quash Denied, Remains Under Seal http://www.balestramedia.com/chelsea-press-releases/2019/3/8/chelsea-manning-continues-to-challenge-grand-jury-subpoena-motion-to-quash-denied-remains-under-seal

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.”

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


Supreme Court Denies Imprisoned Holy Land Foundation Members Appeal

[Washington, DC] After 11 years of raids, seized assets, arrests, a hung jury, a retrial, and the eventual conviction of the Holy Land Foundation and it’s leaders under the material support to terrorists statute, the case ended today with a 9-word notice from the Supreme Court notifying counsel that the appellants case would not be heard. No further explanation was given to the attorneys as to why their Writ of Certiorari would not be heard.

The news came at 10:30am this morning despite an announcement that Federal buildings in the Capitol would be closed in anticipation of hurricane Sandy. Attorney John Cline immediately notified Noor Elashi, daughter to HLF defendant Ghassan Elashi, that “the Supreme Court entered an order a few minutes ago declining to take the case. That order—which comes with no explanation—marks the end of the judicial process. It is not, of course, the end of the effort to achieve justice for your father. …Our federal judicial system is a national disgrace, but I retain some hope that fairness can ultimately be achieved if we persist.”

Nancy Hollander attorney for the appealants issued this statement to MondoWeiss.net, “This is [a] travesty of American criminal justice. I don’t think American citizens understand that this effects all of us and the world that believes in the American criminal justice system. Anyone in any court in America now risks being convicted based on the opinion of someone who claims to be an expert without any opportunity to cross examine that person because everything about that so-called expert can remain secret. The right to Confrontation, so long enshrined in our justice system, died today.”  Hollander was specifically referring to the prosecution’s use of an Israeli intelligence officer who used the pseudonym “Avi” when giving testimony that the Zakat (charity giving) committee to which the Holy Land Defendants provided charitable aide were (in his eyes) fronts for Hamas.  Avi was also shielded from cross examination.  The prosecution’s unfettered use of Avi became a central tenant to the appellant’s petition, as they specifically state that his testimony was in direct violation of the appellant’s 6th amendment rights (see page 14 in the appealant’s Writ of Certiorari.)

Today’s Supreme Court ruling was not only was a major blow to our 1st, 5th, and 6th amendment protections, it was also a grotesque miscarriage of justice. The Holy Land Five led with a charitable example that all Americans should follow …not prosecute. Michael Ratner underscored this when he spoke at Thursday’s press conference, “We will look back on this period, not just the Holy Land Five, but the cases from the NYPD, down here with the Third Jihad, all they way to drone killings in Pakistan, we will look on this as probably one of the darkest, if not the darkest, periods of our history. And sadly, sadly, Noor’s father is paying the price of 65 years in jail.”