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Chelsea Manning subjected to effective solitary confinement since jailed for contempt: Supporters

March 23, 2019 GMT

Chelsea Manning is being subjected to “effective” solitary confinement for refusing to cooperate with federal prosecutors investigating WikiLeaks, her supporters said Saturday.

Manning’s support committee said the former Army analyst and WikiLeaks source has been isolated in a cell for 22 hours a day since being jailed more than two weeks ago for defying a subpoena seeking her testimony in front of a federal grand jury convened in Alexandria, Virginia.

Sixteen days into her latest stint behind bars, Manning’s supporters said the conditions constitute “Prolonged Solitary” as defined by Juan Mendez, the United Nations special rapporteur on torture, and should be reversed immediately.

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“Chelsea is a principled person, and she has made clear that while this kind of treatment will harm her, and will almost certainly leave lasting scars, it will never make her change her mind about cooperating with the grand jury,” said the support committee, which goes by the name “Chelsea Resists!”

“It bears repeating that while solitary confinement should not be used for anyone, it is especially immoral to place Chelsea in solitary, when she has not been accused of, charged with, nor convicted of any new crime,” Manning’s supporters said in a statement seeking reprieve.

Manning, 31, has been held at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center in Alexandria since March 8. Representatives for the Alexandria Sheriff’s Office, the agency responsible for the jail’s operations, did not immediately return an email inquiring about her conditions.

“If Truesdale wants to prioritize Chelsea’s health and welfare, as they consistently claim, then they should make sure she is able to have contact with other people in the jail,” said Manning’s supporters.

Manning was convicted in 2013 of sharing military and diplomatic documents subsequently released online by WikiLeaks. She served roughly seven years of a 35-year sentence prior to being released early in 2017, including a significant portion in solitary confinement that her presiding judge later found to be illegal pretrial punishment.

Manning was recently subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury in Alexandria federal court, where her lawyers presume prosecutors planned to ask her questions about her relationship with WikiLeaks dating back to 2010. She relented, was cited for contempt and jailed until either she changes her mind or the grand jury expires.

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Lawyers for Manning have asked the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to review the contempt ruling, according to court documents unsealed Friday.

The Department of Justice has been investigating WikiLeaks since at least 2010 when the website began publishing documents later traced to Manning. The Associated Press and multiple major newspapers have recently reported that federal prosecutors have secretly filed criminal charges against the anti-secrecy group’s founder, Julian Assange, and Manning could potentially provide the government with additional information relevant to its case.

“She gave full testimony in her court-martial, she was sentenced, she served seven years in jail in conditions that were tantamount to torture by U.N. standards, and then pardoned by Obama towards the end of his term, perhaps remembering that he campaigned on a platform of protecting whistleblowers. And now years later, being hauled to jail for refusing to testify against WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. She needs a lot of support,” WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson told the Reykjavk Grapevine in an interview published Friday.