Chelsea Manning released after 62-day confinement in jail

Ed Pilkington in New York


Chelsea Manning has been released from jail after 62 days of confinement for refusing to testify before a grand jury.

The former army intelligence analyst, who leaked hundreds of thousands of state secrets to WikiLeaks in 2010, was released from the William G Truesdale adult detention center in Alexandria, Virginia, on Thursday after the grand jury she had defied expired.

But her liberation may yet be short-lived. According to her lawyers, even before she walked free, she was issued with a new subpoena ordering her to appear before another grand jury – possibly as soon as 16 May.

Manning’s two-month stint in custody bore echoes of the seven years she spent behind bars on a 35-year sentence for leaking one of the largest stashes of US state secrets in history. As with her military imprisonment, she served some of her jail time in solitary confinement.

Related: Inside the webchats the US hopes will get Assange behind bars

The former army private faces another term in jail for contempt of court if she continues to refuse to answer questions in front of a reconvened grand jury. She has consistently indicated that she is determined to resist.

“Today marked the expiration of the term of the grand jury, and so, after 62 days of confinement, Chelsea was released from the Alexandria Detention Center earlier today,” her lawyers said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, even prior to her release, Chelsea was served with another subpoena. It is therefore conceivable that she will once again be held in contempt of court, and be returned [to custody]. Chelsea will continue to refuse to answer questions, and will use every available legal defence to prove... that she has just cause for her refusal to give testimony.”

Earlier this week a statement put out by Manning said: “I can – without any hesitation – state that nothing will convince me to testify before this or any other grand jury for that matter. This experience so far only proves my long held belief that grand juries are simply outdated tools used by the federal government to harass and disrupt political opponents and activists in fishing expeditions.”

Details have not been made public as to why Manning is being forced to testify or face jail. The case in which she has been called is sealed.

However, it is being processed by a federal court in the eastern district of Virginia – the same district where Julian Assange of WikiLeaks was charged last month.

Assange was indicted for computer hacking crimes related to Manning’s transfer of vast quantities of digital data to a secure WikiLeaks portal. The indictment accuses the WikiLeaks chief of actively engaging with Manning to try to crack a password stored on a military computer connected to secret intelligence databases.