WASHINGTON – Former US soldier Chelsea Manning, the first big whistleblower to provide secret documents to WikiLeaks, was sent to prison on Friday after she refused to testify before a federal judge about revealing military secrets in 2010.
Manning, who worked as an intelligence analyst for the US Army, will remain in prison until she testifies or until the grand jury hearing the case has completed its investigation of WikiLeaks, according to Alexandria, Virginia, Federal Judge Claude Hilton’s ruling.
The hearing was held behind closed doors except for the period during which the judge handed down his decision, in which he ordered the former soldier to be jailed for “contempt of court,” local media reported.
Manning will thus remain in prison “until she purges or the end of the life of the grand jury,” according to a statement released by her representatives.
The former soldier appeared on Friday in court to explain why she refused to answer the grand jury’s questions about the publication of military secrets nine years ago.
In a statement released this week, Manning said that she had also appeared on Wednesday before a “secret grand jury” after receiving “immunity” for her testimony and that she objected to responding to questions posed to her about the leaks in 2010, about which – she said – she had already provided details before a 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,’” Manning said in a statement.
Manning had been obligated to testify before a grand jury as part of the investigation of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
On Jan. 23, Assange’s defense team reported that it had filed an “urgent” request before the Washington-based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to order the US to reveal the charges levied in secret against their client.
Manning was convicted in 2013, when she was still known as Bradley Manning, to 35 years behind bars for leaking the largest trove of confidential documents in US history.
On May 17, 2017, she was released after seven years behind bars after being pardoned the previous January by then-President Barack Obama three days before he left office.
While serving as a military intelligence analyst, Manning in 2010 leaked to WikiLeaks more than 700,000 classified documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, along with State Department communications, the move constituting a major reversal for US diplomacy that fueled a debate about Washington’s role in the world.
Obama commuted Manning’s sentence because she took responsibility for her actions in her trial, which ended in the summer of 2013, and said that she regretted leaking the documents, attributing the deed to her young age – she was 22 at the time – and to problems resulting from her homosexuality during her military career.