Chelsea Manning 'prepared to face the consequences' of refusing to answer questions in Assange probe

Chelsea Manning 'prepared to face the consequences' of refusing to answer questions in Assange probe
© Instagram/Chelsea Manning

Chelsea Manning, the former intelligence officer who was convicted in 2013 of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, said she is prepared to face the consequences of refusing to answer a grand jury’s questions about her disclosure. 

Manning revealed last week she was subpoenaed to testify behind closed doors for a grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. She said in a statement that the jury members Wednesday grilled her over her 2010 leaks to the anti-secrecy group.

“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, noting she had answered similar questions during her 2013 court martial and may now be found in contempt of court. 

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“In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available. My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal,” she said.

Manning will appear before a federal court in Virginia on Friday for a contempt hearing.

Manning received a 35-year prison sentence in 2013 for leaking secret State Department communications and military documents to WikiLeaks. Former President Obama commuted her sentence in 2017. She said in her statement she had been granted immunity in exchange for her testimony, but did not offer further details.

Virginia prosecutors have been building a case against Assange for years. His group gained notoriety in 2016 after it released hacked Democratic documents in an effort to embarrass former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Poll: Nearly half of Clinton's former supporters back Biden Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE.

Assange began hiding out in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2012 to avoid a now-dropped rape charge in Sweden, though it is unclear what U.S. prosecutors are focusing their investigation on. 

The Obama administration declined to prosecute Assange on the fears that it would open the door to lawsuits against legitimate media outlets that publish classified documents.