Tag Archives: EDVA

Chelsea Manning

Statement from Chelsea Manning’s Legal Team: Chelsea Manning Released After EDVA Grand Jury Probe Expires

Alexandria, VA — Judge Anthony Trenga today ordered Chelsea Manning’s release from confinement, after the apparent conclusion of the grand jury to which she had been subpoenaed, and before which she refused to testify. He further ordered that she pay $256,000 in fines which accrued each day she refused to cooperate with the grand jury. 

Needless to say we are relieved and ask that you respect her privacy while she gets on her feet.

Legal Team Files Motion to Release Chelsea Manning

Legal Team Files Motion to Release Chelsea Manning

Alexandria, VA — Today, attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen filed a Motion to Release Chelsea Manning, based on evidence, including an expert’s assessment of Chelsea’s personality profile, and a public condemnation of her “coercive confinement” by Nils Melzer, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. 

Ms. Manning has now been incarcerated at Alexandria Detention Center for nearly a year, due to her principled refusal to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the publishers of her 2010 disclosures. She may be held for up to 18 months or until she agrees to cooperate. She is also fined $1,000 for each day she refuses to testify, those fines now total approximately $230,000.

According to Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Ms. Manning’s attorney:

“A witness who refuses to cooperate with a grand jury subpoena may be held in contempt of court, and fined or incarcerated. The only permissible purpose for sanctions under the civil contempt statute is to coerce a witness to comply with the subpoena. If compliance is impossible, either because the grand jury is no longer in existence, or because the witness is incoercible, then confinement has been transformed from a coercive into a punitive sanction, and thus is in violation of the law.”

As Ms. Manning explains: 

“My refusal to testify continues, predicated on my long standing belief that grand juries, as they function in the contemporary era, are often used by federal prosecutors to harass and disrupt political opponents and activists through secrecy, coercion, and jailing without trial. 

“My own current confinement reinforces my belief in their tendency to be abused in practice. I cannot agree to participate in such a process. No matter how much you punish me, I will remain confident in my decision. I have been separated from my loved ones, deprived of sunlight, and could not even attend my mother’s funeral. It is easier to endure these hardships now than to cooperate to win back some comfort, and live the rest of my life knowing that I acted out of self interest and not principle.” 

Today’s filing includes a personality assessment by Dr. Sara Boyd, suggesting that Ms. Manning is constitutionally incapable of acting against her conscience. “Ms. Manning exhibits long standing personality features that relate to her scrupulousness, her persistence and dedication, and her willingness to endure social disapproval as well as formal punishments,” it reads. “Ms. Manning … has not wavered in this decision-making regarding cooperation for the past [eleven] months and she did not make any statements indicating that… there was any information that could be provided to her that would change her mind.” This report provides yet more evidence that Ms. Manning will not be moved by confinement, and must therefore be released. 

Also included in the brief is a letter dated November 1, 2019, from U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer, who concludes that the practice of coercive confinement constitutes “torture” in violation of international laws ratified by the United States. S.R. Melzer recommends that Chelsea be released “without further delay” and that her fines be “cancelled or reimbursed” since they are impermissibly punitive, being “disproportionate to the gravity of any offence she may have committed.”

“The key issue before Judge Trenga is whether continued incarceration could persuade Chelsea to testify,” said Ms. Meltzer-Cohen. “Judges have complained of the ‘perversity’ of this law: that a witness may win their freedom by persisting in their contempt of court. However, should Judge Trenga agree that Chelsea will never agree to testify, he will be compelled by the law to order her release.

“The evidence overwhelmingly supports the claim we have made from the beginning: Ms. Manning cannot be pressured into betraying her principles. If her confinement is not having a coercive impact, it has exceeded its permissible scope, and Ms. Manning must be released.”

Many organizations have come out in support of Chelsea and her principled stance, including: Amnesty International, Fight for the Future, Internet Archive, Defending Rights & Dissent, Media Alliance, Oakland Privacy, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Queerious Labs, Demand Progress, RootsAction, and Lucy Parsons Labs. Likewise, many friends and family made public statements or submitted letters of support to the judge in her case, Judge Anthony Trenga, including:  Daniel Ellsberg, Michael Stipe, Thurston Moore and many others.

As of the time of this statement, a petition launched by Fight for the Future at FreeChelsea.com demanding that Chelsea be released has garnered a significant demonstration of public support, with more than 60,000 signatures

For more information, Frequently Asked Questions, Legal Precedents, and a complete archive of statements from Chelsea, including her letter to Judge Anthony Trenga explaining the history of Grand juries and her objections to them, see the new website at ReleaseChelsea.com.

A Note to Editors


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

Resources:

Motion to Release Chelsea Manning https://www.releasechelsea.com/resources/legal_documents/motion_to_release

More than 60,000 people call for judge to release Chelsea Manning, Press Release  https://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/190901492383/more-than-60000-people-call-for-judge-to-release

What’s the difference between coercive and punitive incarceration? https://www.releasechelsea.com/faq/b/

How does a judge determine whether a witness is incoercible?  https://www.releasechelsea.com/faq/c/

What factors are used by the judge to make an “individualized determination” regarding the intransigence of the witness? https://www.releasechelsea.com/faq/d/

How have grand juries and contempt sanctions been used or abused in the past? https://www.releasechelsea.com/faq/g/

Chelsea Manning Responds to United Nations Rapporteur’s Call For Her Release – UN Special Rapporteur on Torture: Release Chelsea Manning immediately, January 2, 2020 https://www.sparrowmedia.net/2020/01/chelsea-manning-responds-to-united-nations-rapporteurs-call-for-her-release/

Letter to the US Government: Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, by Nils Melzer, Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, November 1, 2019
https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=24925

Executive Summary: Memorandum of Law in Support of Motion to Release, by Kelly Wright (Motion filed May 6, 2019) https://www.releasechelsea.com/resources/executive-summary/

Organizations Supporting Chelsea Manning https://www.releasechelsea.com/organizations_supporting_chelsea/

Individuals Supporting Chelsea Manning  https://www.releasechelsea.com/individuals_supporting_chelsea

Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning Responds to United Nations Rapporteur’s Call For Her Release


UN Special Rapporteur on Torture: Release Chelsea Manning immediately

Alexandria, VA — This week Nils Melzer, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment published a letter to the U.S. government dated November 1, 2019, condemning the incarceration of Chelsea Manning, calling such coercive confinement “torture” in violation of international law, and recommending her immediate release. He also recommends that any disproportionate fines levied against her be cancelled. The letter was made public following a customary 60-day window pending any government response.

Said S.R. Melzer:

“…I recommend that Ms. Manning’s current deprivation of liberty be promptly reviewed in light of the United States’ international human rights obligations. Should my assessment regarding its purely coercive purpose be accurate, I recommend that Ms. Manning be released without further delay, and that any fines disproportionate to the gravity of any offence she may have committed be cancelled or reimbursed.”

The letter was announced by Melzer via Twitter late December 30, 2019, stating:

“…the continued detention of @xychelsea is not a lawful sanction but an open-ended, progressively severe coercive measure amounting to torture & should be discontinued & abolished without delay”

In the letter, Melzer also condemns the United States’ practice of what he considers to be “prolonged coercive confinement” which “involves the intentional infliction of progressively severe mental and emotional suffering for the purposes of coercion and intimidation at the order of judicial authorities.” He added that “victims of prolonged coercive confinement have demonstrated post-traumatic symptoms and other severe and persistent mental and physical health consequences.” 

According to Ms. Manning:

“My long-standing objection to the immoral practice of throwing people in jail without charge or trial, for the sole purpose of forcing them to testify before a secret, government-run investigative panel, remains strong. 

“Nearly every other legal system in the world condemns coercive confinement, and long ago replaced secret grand juries with public hearings. I am thrilled to see the practice of coercive confinement called out for what it is: incompatible with international human rights standards. Regardless, even knowing I am very likely to stay in jail for an even longer time, I’m never backing down.” 

Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Manning’s attorney, said:

“Special Rapporteur Melzer has issued a legally rigorous condemnation of the practice of coercive confinement, and of Ms. Manning’s confinement in particular. While the United States has so far failed to live up to its human rights obligations, I remain hopeful that the government will reconsider its policies in light of the UN’s admonition. 

“In any case, there can be no further doubt that Ms. Manning has the courage of her convictions, and will never agree to testify before a grand jury, even at great personal cost. As S.R. Melzer notes, since her confinement is not having the intended coercive effect, she must be released.” 

Although S.R. Melzer has requested a clarifying response from the United States, he makes clear his settled conclusion that the practice of coercive confinement violates international human rights law, and recommends Ms. Manning’s immediate release pending any response or investigation. In the two months since the letter was conveyed to the United States, Ms. Manning has remained confined, and the daily fines imposed upon her have continued to accrue.

 
A Note to Editors



1. Definition of “torture” — as outlined in Article one of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), as described by S.R. Nils Melzer in his letter

“torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity, it does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions”.

(Note: Melzer clarifies, in the letter, on page 2, that he does not think such practices fall under CAT’s “lawful sanctions” exception.

2. List of international human rights laws that the U.S. practice of coercive confinement is in violation of, as described by S.R. Nils Melzer in his letter:

  • Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT) (Articles 1, 2, 15 and 16)

  • International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR); ratified by the United States of America in 1994 and 1992 respectively (Articles 2, 7 and 9)

  • Human Rights Council Resolution 16/23

  • Human Rights Council Resolution 34/19

  • Human Rights Council Resolution 25/13

  • General Assembly Resolution 68/156

Jeremy Hammond

Jeremy Hammond Issues Statement Explaining Why He is Resisting the Grand Jury

Alexandria, VA — Imprisoned information activist Jeremy Hammond was found in contempt yesterday for refusing to cooperate with a Federal Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA). Chelsea Manning was similarly remanded into custody for failure to provide testimony before the same Grand Jury. Hammond, who was already serving his 7th year of a 10 year Federal Prison sentence after pleading guilty for releasing information about the Private Intelligence Firm Strategic Forcasting (Stratfor), has issued the following statement detailing his reasons for resisting the EDVA’s grand jury:

“As many of you know, I was just a few months from my scheduled release from federal prison when I was unexpectedly dragged in chains and planes to this raggedy detention center in Alexandria, Virginia. I am outraged that the government is threatening additional jail time if I do not cooperate with their grand jury investigation. Their draconian intimidation tactics could never coerce me into betraying my comrades or my principles. In the spirit of resistance and with great contempt for their system, I am choosing silence over freedom.

“I am fully prepared for the consequences of my decision just as I had been each and every time I was faced with similar choices before. Long ago when I realized that government and capitalism were too hopelessly corrupt and unjust to be reformed through legal or electoral means, I chose to engage in civil disobedience and direct action. I knew then that my actions could land me behind bars, yet I fought on anyway; after a dozen arrests and even a prior federal prison sentence for hacking, I chose once again to use my computer skills to attack the systems of the rich and powerful as part of the Anonymous federal case I am doing time for today.

“When I pled guilty, I took responsibility for my actions and my actions alone. I never agreed to be debriefed or testify in any way, unlike the government’s informant Hector Monsegur, aka Sabu, whose reward was one year of probation while I received the maximum sentence allowable by law. It was a painful choice, but ten years in their dungeons was the price I was willing to pay so I could maintain my integrity. I have never regretted my choices the entire time I have been incarcerated, and having seen and experienced first-hand the abuses and inherent injustice of the prison industrial complex, my commitment to revolution and abolition has only become more deeply entrenched.

“Now, after seven and a half years of ‘paying my debt to society,’ the government seeks to punish me further with this vindictive, politically-motivated legal maneuver to delay my release, knowing full well that I would never cooperate with their witch hunt. I am opposed to all grand juries, but I am opposed to this one in particular because it is part of the government’s ongoing war on free speech, journalists, and whistleblowers. I am insulted that those in power claim that I have an ‘obligation that every citizen owes his government’ to testify. As an anarchist, I am not part of their social contract, and do not recognize the legitimacy of their laws and courts. Instead, I believe in a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote I had taped to the wall of my prison cell for years: ‘One has an obligation to disobey unjust laws.’

“It is difficult to view any of this government’s laws as just when they are so selectively enforced, and when the government turns a blind eye to its own misconduct, misconduct that is on display every day that Trump is in the White House. In my case, the government, through its informant, Sabu, instigated numerous hacks, asking me to break into governments and companies all over the world. Nearly a decade later, this misconduct remains ignored. The NSA continues to surveil everyone and launch cyber attacks. Trump and his corrupt cronies continue to hold the world hostage to their megalomaniacal imperialist pig whims while simultaneously refusing to comply with subpoenas and inquiries into their vicious abuses of power. Meanwhile, Chelsea Manning and I are doing hard time in this dump for the ‘crime’ of refusing to allow our spirits to break, after ‘serving’ our sentences for exposing government and corporate corruption.

“This absurd hypocrisy and desperate ruthlessness reveals a crumbling legal system, a system that has robbed me of the majority of my adult life but could never take my humanity. I will continue to do the right thing, no matter how long it takes. I know how to do time, and I will never be intimidated by their threats. Ever!! I refuse!!”

“Our integrity sells for so little, but it is all we really have. It is the very last inch of us, but within that inch, we are free.”  — Alan Moore, V for Vendetta

Additional Information

Jeremy is being represented by attorneys Susan Kellman, Sarah Kunstler, and local counsel Jeffrey D. Zimmerman.  His legal team also includes Elisa Y. Lee and Beena Ahmad. For information on how you can support Jeremy, and for updates on his case please visit freejeremy.net or follow the Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee on twitter @freejeremynet

Jeremy Hammond

Imprisoned Activist Jeremy Hammond Found in Contempt for Failure to Testify Before Federal Grand Jury in the EDVA

Same Virginia Grand Jury Probe Holding Chelsea Manning on Contempt also finds Hammond in Contempt

Alexandria, VA — Imprisoned information activist Jeremy Hammond has been found in contempt today for refusing to answer 7 questions in front of a Federal Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Virginia (EDVA). Earlier this year Chelsea Manning was remanded into custody for failure to provide testimony before the same Grand Jury.

The following is a statement from the Jeremy Hammond Support Committee regarding these developments:

“Today, in Federal Court in the Eastern District of Virginia, Jeremy Hammond was found in contempt for refusing to answer questions posed to him by a grand jury. This grand jury is  the same grand jury currently holding Chelsea Manning in contempt for bravely refusing to answer their questions.

“We do not know what questions the grand jury is investigating. Moreover, it is unclear whether or not the federal prison sentence he was serving for which he was due to be released from just two short months from now, will be suspended as the result of being found in civil contempt. 

“By removing him from FCI Memphis before his time in RDAP was completed, the government has added a minimum of six months onto Jeremy’s sentence. Judge Trenga has the option of jailing him indefinitely for contempt. The decision to compel Jeremy to testify despite his outspoken, long-standing anarchist beliefs and support for myriad brave grand jury resistors, only to place him under contempt when he adheres to those same core beliefs should be seen as little more than cruel and punitive.

“Jeremy has held strong to his beliefs over the past seven years. In fact, being subjected to the horrors of the legal system over and over again has been one of the defining factors that has strengthened Jeremy’s beliefs. There is nothing a grand jury could do or say that could compel Jeremy to testify. Jeremy made it clear from the beginning of his case that he had no  intention of cooperating with the government, and that hasn’t, and will never change. Any attempts to try to force him to testify through prolonged incarceration serves to do nothing but further punish Jeremy for his political beliefs. This highlights one of the many problems with grand juries, and one of the many reasons why they should not exist, and why it is the correct and moral stance to resist them.”

Recent Events
In late August Jeremy Hammond was removed from the Federal Correctional Institution in Memphis, Tennessee where he was serving a 10-year prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges he hacked the private intelligence contractor Stratfor Global Intelligence. At the time of his transfer Hammond was enrolled in the Federal Bureau of Prison’s intensive Residential Drug Abuse Program (RDAP) which upon completion qualifies participating inmates for early release. Hammond’s prison release date was projected to come around mid December of 2019 but because of his removal from the RDAP program and the summons to this grand jury his time incarcerated could be extended by over two years.  Hammond is currently confined at William G. Truesdale Correctional Center in Alexandria, VA and will likely remain there for the duration of these proceedings.

Additional Information
Jeremy is being represented by attorneys Susan Kellman, Sarah Kunstler, and local counsel Jeffrey D. Zimmerman.  His legal team also includes Elisa Y. Lee and Beena Ahmad. For information on how you can support Jeremy, and for updates on his case please visit freejeremy.net or follow the Jeremy Hammond Defense Committee on twitter @freejeremynet