Alexandria, VA — Today, Chelsea Manning’s legal team will file a reply brief in their appeal asking the Fourth Circuit to vacate District Court Judge Hilton’s March 8 finding of civil contempt. Ms. Manning, a staunch advocate for government transparency, asserted legal grounds for her refusal to participate in what she views as an assault on the free press. She remains in detention as a result of the contempt finding. The Assange indictment disclosed this morning strengthens their claims of grand jury abuse, say Manning’s attorneys.
“The indictment against Julian Assange unsealed today was obtained a year to the day before Chelsea appeared before the grand jury and refused to give testimony. The fact that this indictment has existed for over a year underscores what Chelsea’s legal team and Chelsea herself have been saying since she was first issued a subpoena to appear in front of a Federal Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Virginia — that compelling Chelsea to testify would have been duplicative of evidence already in the possession of the grand jury, and was not needed in order for US Attorneys to obtain an indictment of Mr. Assange. Grand Juries may not be used for the sole and dominant purpose of preparing for trial, including questioning potential trial witnesses. Since her testimony can no longer contribute to a grand jury investigation, Chelsea’s ongoing detention can no longer be seriously alleged to constitute an attempt to coerce her testimony. As continued detention would be purely punitive, we demand Chelsea be released.”