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

2. March 29, 2019 – Lawyers for Chelsea Manning Ask Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to Void Charges of Civil Contempt

3. March 23, 2019 – Lawyers and Supporters Condemn Chelsea Manning’s 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

5. March 6, 2019 – 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