Former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning is recovering in a hospital after attempting to take her own life inside her jail cell in Virginia, her lawyers said in a statement. Manning has been jailed on contempt of court charges for refusing to testify to a grand jury in the investigation on Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.
Manning was due back in court on Friday in Alexandria, Virginia. The judge was to rule on whether to terminate her civil contempt sanctions. It isn’t known if that court appearance will happen.
The Sheriff’s Office released a statement acknowledging that there had been “an incident” involving Manning. In the statement, Alexandria Sheriff Dana Lawhorne said: “There was an incident at approximately 12:11 p.m. today at the Alexandria Adult Detention Center involving inmate Chelsea Manning. It was handled appropriately by our professional staff and Ms. Manning is safe.”
Manning was arrested in July 2010. She was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in prison for violation of the Espionage Act for leaking classified military information to Assange and Wikileaks. She was placed in the military prison in Ft. Leavenworth. In one of his last official acts as President, Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence to seven years. Manning tried unsuccessfully to run for the Democratic nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2018 against incumbent Ben Cardin in Maryland.
But the government is still after Assange and Wikileaks and is trying to extradite him from the U.K. The government states that Assange worked with Manning to break into classified government computers, illegally download and leak information related to the U.S. war and diplomacy efforts in the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The government then subpoenaed Manning to testify to the grand jury in the case. But she has refused to testify, reasoning that she had already given statements on the case during her court-martial.
Manning was adamant back in May of 2019 in her refusal to testify, telling a judge that she’d rather “starve to death.” She wrote to the judge calling the grand-jury probe “an effort to frighten journalists and publishers, who serve a public good.” She said, “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.”
Andy Stepanian, a spokesman for Manning’s legal team, said that she continued to refuse to “participate in a secret grand jury process that she sees as highly susceptible to abuse. Her actions today evidence the strength of her convictions, as well as the profound harm she continues to suffer as a result of her ‘civil’ confinement.”
“In spite of those sanctions — which have so far included over a year of so-called ‘coercive’ incarceration and nearly half a million dollars in threatened fines — she remains unwavering in her refusal to participate in a secret grand jury process that she sees as highly susceptible to abuse,” her lawyers added in a statement.