WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning is going back to prison - here's why

ALEXANDRIA VIRGINIA- MAY 16 Former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning addresses reporters before entering the Albert Bryan U.S federal courthouse

WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning is back in jail after a federal court judge in Washington found her in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a grand jury, her legal team has said.

District Court Judge Anthony Trenga ordered Manning back to prison, and said she will, in addition, be fined $500 a day for the first 30 days in the clink, and $1,000 a day after that, until she testifies. "So it doesn't matter what it is or what the case is, I'm just not going to comply or cooperate". A federal appeals court rejected her argument for release - that her rights were violated by the subpoena proceedings and the federal prosecutors purportedly seeking to entrap her - in April.

The objective of imprisoning Manning for contempt of a grand jury is explicitly to compel her to testify.

Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a lawyer representing Manning, spoke of her disappointment. "It is telling that the United States has always been more concerned with the disclosure of those documents than with the damning substance of the disclosures". She said the isolation caused her "extraordinary pain" and that she was sometimes in a "dissociative stupor". Her sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama in one of his final acts in office.

She was subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury hearing evidence collected by prosecutors who have for years been investigating WikiLeaks, and who recently unsealed a criminal indictment against its founder, Julian Assange.

USA prosecutors publicly released the indictment against Assange after he was evicted from Ecuador's London embassy, where he took refuge in 2012 fearing extradition to the United States or Sweden. During that period, Manning allegedly asked Assange for help in cracking a Defense Department password on a network used for classified documents.

She was released from jail last week after serving a two-month sentence for an earlier refusal to testify.

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Assange remains in England and has vowed to fight extradition to the United States. If the grand jury term goes on for 18 months, the fines could exceed half a million dollars, she added, calling it "draconian".

Representatives for Manning had previously said she was kept in her cell for 22 hours a day, arguing that such solitary confinement threatened her health and amounted to "torture".

But her freedom was short-lived.

The former US soldier was convicted by Army court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offences for leaking an enormous trove of military reports and US State Department cables to WikiLeaks while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq.

Trenga responded, "There's nothing dishonorable in discharging your responsibility as a US citizen".

In a statement at the time she was taken into custody, Manning said she "will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to, particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech".

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