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Chelsea Manning Was Just Released From Jail. Here’s What Happens Next

Chelsea Manning and the Julian Assange WikiLeaks InvestigationChelsea Manning and the Julian Assange WikiLeaks Investigation
Chelsea Manning leaves the Albert V. Bryan U.S. District Courthouse on Tuesday, March 5, 2019, in Alexandria, VA. The Washington Post The Washington Post/Getty Images

Chelsea Manning was released from federal custody Thursday after being held in a Virginia jail for 62 days for refusing to testify to a grand jury about WikiLeaks.

Manning was released after the grand jury’s term expired; however, her attorneys said she has already been served with another subpoena. The new subpoena demands that Manning appear before a different grand jury on May 16, when she could be returned to the custody of the Alexandria Detention Center.

“Chelsea will continue to refuse to answer questions, and will use every available legal defense to prove to District Judge Trenga that she has just cause for her refusal to give testimony,” her attorneys said.

Manning was jailed for contempt of court on March 8, after she refused to testify before the grand jury that is currently investigating WikiLeaks. She said at the time that secret proceedings of this nature “tend to favor the government,” adding, “I’m always willing to explain things publicly.”

Manning’s refusal to testify is a protest of grand juries, which she says have been used by the state to “entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech.”

It remains unclear what prosecutors want to ask Manning, but her legal team has asserted that she will not be convinced to testify.

Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Manning’s attorney, filed a motion earlier this week on the basis that she would never cooperate with a grand jury.

“The only permissible purpose for confinement under the civil contempt statute is to attempt to coerce a witness to comply with the subpoena, or ‘purge’ their contempt,” Meltzer-Cohen said. “If it is no longer possible to purge the contempt, either because the grand jury is no longer in existence, or because the witness is un-coercible, then confinement has been transformed from coercive into punitive, in violation of the law.”

Manning faces no criminal charges and has not been accused of wrongdoing since her previous 35-year sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama in January 2017.

Upon her arrival at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in March, Manning was held in solitary confinement for nearly a month, which experts have said is a form of torture.

After filing the motion earlier this week on the grounds that Manning will never cooperate with a grand jury, Meltzer-Cohen told reporters: “Chelsea has tremendous courage. Our primary concern at this point is her health while she is confined, and we will be paying close attention.”

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