Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Chelsea Manning, seen here during a talk on March 29, 2018. (Photo: Fredrik Lundhag/flickr/cc)

'I Will Not Comply': Chelsea Manning Sent Back to Prison Over Grand Jury Refusal

"If we lived in a just world she'd be considered a national hero."

Eoin Higgins

Chelsea Manning won't be bullied by the federal government, she told supporters on Friday.

In a move her defenders called "an outrageous government overreach and absolutely inhumane," Manning was remanded to federal prison for contempt on Friday morning due to her refusal to testify in a secret grand jury hearing Wednesday.

"I will not comply with this, or any grand jury," said Manning. "Imprisoning me for my refusal to answer questions only subjects me to additional punishment for my repeatedly-stated ethical objections to the grand jury system."

The decision to throw Manning in prison by U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton came after Manning refused to cooperate with prosecutors in a secretive grand jury process widely believed to be aimed at the media outlet Wikileaks, Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange, or both.

Manning, a former Army infantry soldier whose leaking of documents to Wikileaks in 2010 netted her a 35 year sentence in 2010 that was commuted by President Barack Obama in 2017, was subpoenaed by the grand jury in February. Manning made clear in a statement prior to the court date that she would not cooperate with the grand jury. 

"I have nothing to contribute to this case," said Manning, "and I resent being forced to endanger myself by participating in this predatory practice."

During the closed door hearing on Wednesday, Manning was asked about her contacts with Wikileaks and other issues. 

Manning told NBC News said she 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."

She pointed out that the questions were superfluous and that the answer prosecutors were looking for could be found elsewhere.

"All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 — answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013," Manning said.

On Friday, that got her put in prison until she either capitulates to the government's demands or the grand jury ends. Manning's attorney, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, told reporters that her client expected that outcome. 

"Chelsea is a tremendously courageous person and this outcome was not unexpected," said Meltzer-Cohen, "but this an appealable order." 

Reaction to Manning's imprisonment from supporters praised the whistleblower's courage and her commitment to her principles while condemning the government for detaining Manning. 

"Manning is a whistleblower, a truth teller, and a hero," said Chip Gibbons, policy and legislative counsel for civil rights advocacy group Defending Rights & Dissent, in a statement. "Yet, for making the American people aware of crimes committed by their government in their name the US government has repeatedly persecuted her. "

"If we lived in a just world she'd be considered a national hero," said writer Dante Douglas.

"Disgusting," said journalist Glenn Greenwald, adding that the prosecution of Wikileaks was "a major threat to press freedom."

Writer Sean T. Collins noted the fact that Manning's sentence simply being commuted may have contributed to the current situation. 

In her statement, Manning said that she would continue to hold fast to the principles praised by her supporters. 

"I will not participate in a secret process that I morally object to," said Manning, "particularly one that has been historically used to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Chief Urges Global Solidarity on Covid, Climate, and Debt Relief

"The last two years have demonstrated a simple but brutal truth, if we leave anyone behind, in the end, we leave everyone behind," said the secretary-general at the opening of the virtual Davos summit.

Jessica Corbett ·


Sinema's MLK Day Tweet Sparks Online Fury

One group criticized the Democratic senator from Arizona as "the white moderate MLK warned us about."

Andrea Germanos ·


Why Did Democratic AG Kill Flint Water RICO Case?

"Political corruption poisoned Flint and political corruption shielded the wrongdoers from accountability," said one critic following new revelations.

Kenny Stancil ·


Progressives Counter Cherry-Picked Quotes With MLK's True Legacy

Calling out those who have "weaponized" his words "to justify legislated white supremacy," Rep. Ayanna Pressley said King "was a radical dreamer with a bold vision for revolutionary change."

Jessica Corbett ·


'No Celebration Without Legislation': King Family Leads Voting Rights March

"I will not accept empty promises in pursuit of my father's dream," said Martin Luther King III.

Andrea Germanos ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo