Alexandria, VA — Today, attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen filed a Motion for Chelsea Manning to be released on the basis that, as she will never be convinced to cooperate with the grand jury, further confinement serves no lawful purpose and must be terminated.
According to Moira Meltzer-Cohen, attorney to Chelsea Manning:
“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 confinement under the civil contempt statute is to attempt to coerce a witness to comply with the subpoena, or “purge” their contempt. 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.
“The key issue before Judge Hilton is whether continued incarceration could persuade Chelsea to testify. Many 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 he agree that Chelsea will never agree to testify, he will be compelled by the law to order her release.
“Since Ms. Manning is not going to agree to give testimony before the grand jury, she argues, her confinement has exceeded its permissible scope, and she must be released.
“Letters of support were submitted to the Court by Ms. Manning’s friends, family, and colleagues, including from representatives of civil liberties organizations including the ACLU, the Freedom of the Press Foundation, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Fight for the Future. These letters reiterate that Chelsea is a person of great moral courage, who will not be swayed into betraying her principles, even in the face of great hardship.
“That her confinement has already been so arduous gives credence to her claim that she will endure great hardship rather than agree to cooperate.”
According to Chelsea’s former attorney, Chase Strangio of the ACLU.
“The constant in Ms. Manning’s life is her unwavering commitment to her principles,” said Strangio. “I am certain that no punishment could coerce her to violate those principles.”
Included in the filing is a lengthy declaration by Chelsea explaining her position:
“After two months of confinement, and using every legal mechanism available so far, I can —without any hesitation— state that nothing will convince me to testify before this or any other grand jury for that matter. This experience so far only proves my long held belief that grand juries are simply outdated tools used by the federal government to harass and disrupt political opponents and activists in fishing expeditions…
“The way I am being treated proves what a corrupt and abusive tool this truly is. With each passing day my disappointment and frustration grow, but so too do my commitments to doing the right thing and continuing to refuse to submit…
“I believe this grand jury seeks to undermine the integrity of public discourse with the aim of punishing those who expose any serious, ongoing, and systemic abuses of power by this government, as well as the rest of the international community…”
“Over the past decade, I grappled with bouts of depression. I can think of nothing that could exacerbate those struggles more than pretending to live as someone I am not once again, and turning my back on everything I care about and fight for…
“I wish to return home. I want to return to my work — writing, speaking, consulting, and teaching. The idea I hold the keys to my own cell is an absurd one, as I face the prospect of suffering either way due to this unnecessary and punitive subpoena: I can either go to jail or betray my principles. The latter exists as a much worse prison than the government can construct.”
Note to editors
Chelsea Manning is represented by Moira Meltzer-Cohen, appellate attorney Vincent Ward, and local counsel Chris Leibig and Sandra Freeman.
1. April 1, 2019 – Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Ask Court to Release Her, Pending Appeal, Citing Abuse of District Court Discretion https://www.sparrowmedia.org/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.org/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.org/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.org/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
7. April 22, 2019 – Chelsea Manning and Her Attorneys Respond to 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Ruling Affirming Contempt and Continuing Her Detention https://www.sparrowmedia.org/2019/04/chelsea-manning-and-her-attorneys-respond-to-4th-circuit-court-of-appeals-ruling-affirming-contempt-and-continuing-her-detention/