Two days after the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer published a letter he sent to the U.S. government urging her release from federal prison, whistleblower Chelsea Manning issued a response welcoming the support and promising to stay resolute in the face of her prolonged detention.
"My long-standing objection to the immoral practice of throwing people in jail without charge or trial, for the sole purpose of forcing them to testify before a secret, government-run investigative panel, remains strong," said Manning.
thank you all - we may be separated by steel and concrete but with your love and solidarity i feel seen and heard and know i am not alone https://t.co/LwgspoKyEb— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) January 2, 2020
Manning was imprisoned on March 8, 2019 for refusing to take part in a grand jury investigation on WikiLeaks and the group's founder, Julian Assange. Manning and her supporters have alleged that the real purpose of her testimony would be to set perjury traps that could eventually land the former Army private in prison.
As Common Dreams reported, Melzer's letter expressed the rapporteur's "serious concern at the reported use of coercive measures against Ms. Manning, particularly given the history of her previous conviction and ill-treatment in detention" and requested more information on Manning's detention.
"I recommend that Ms. Manning's current deprivation of liberty be promptly reviewed in light of the United States' international human rights obligations," Melzer wrote. "Should my assessment regarding its purely coercive purpose be accurate, I recommend that Ms. Manning be released without further delay, and that any fines disproportionate to the gravity of any offense she may have committed be cancelled or reimbursed."
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Manning's attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen in a statement said that Melzer's letter made clear that Manning's detention is in violation of international norms and for the sole purpose of torturing the whistleblower.
"Special Rapporteur Melzer has issued a legally rigorous condemnation of the practice of coercive confinement, and of Ms. Manning's confinement in particular," said Meltzer-Cohen. "While the United States has so far failed to live up to its human rights obligations, I remain hopeful that the government will reconsider its policies in light of the U.N.'s admonition."
"In any case," Meltzer-Cohen added, "there can be no further doubt that Ms. Manning has the courage of her convictions, and will never agree to testify before a grand jury, even at great personal cost."
Manning echoed that sentiment in her statement.
"Even knowing I am very likely to stay in jail for an even longer time," said Manning, "I'm never backing down."