Chelsea Manning, a former Army intelligence officer who was convicted in 2013 of leaking confidential documents to WikiLeaks, revealed she was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury regarding an investigation into Julian Assange, the anti-secrecy group’s founder.
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Manning, who first revealed the subpoena in an interview with The New York Times, served seven years in prison for leaking secret State Department communications and military documents to WikiLeaks before President Obama commuted her sentence. She told The Times she intends to fight the subpoena.
“Given what is going on, I am opposing this,” she said. “I want to be very forthright I have been subpoenaed. I don’t know the parameters of the subpoena apart from that I am expected to appear. I don’t know what I’m going to be asked.”
“I object strenuously to this subpoena, and to the grand jury process in general,” she added in a statement to The Washington Post. “We’ve seen this power abused countless times to target political speech. I have nothing to contribute to this case and I resent being forced to endanger myself by participating in this predatory practice.”
Manning said she is scheduled to testify on March 5. A national security prosecutor working on the Assange case reportedly signed the subpoena last month.
Assange is currently living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid arrest on a rape allegation, though it is unclear what the Virginia prosecutors intend to charge him with.
“It’s disappointing but not surprising that the government is continuing to pursue criminal charges against Julian Assange, apparently for his role in uncovering and providing the public truthful information about matters of great public interest,” Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Assange, told The Times.
The Justice Department under the Obama administration declined to charge Assange and WikiLeaks, reportedly believing it could open the door to lawsuits against legitimate media outlets that publish classified documents.
The anti-secrecy group first gained notoriety after it began releasing a bevy of classified documents relating to the American wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it was thrust into the prosecutorial spotlight after its involvement in the dumping of Democratic documents during the 2016 election.