Federal judge orders Chelsea Manning’s release from jail

Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning will be released from jail after being held for 10 months because testimony she refused to give to a secret grand jury is no longer needed, a federal judge said on Thursday.

Manning’s release comes because “the business of (the grand jury) had concluded,” Judge Anthony Trenga of the federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, wrote on Thursday. “The Court finds that Ms. Manning’s appearance before the Grand Jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose.”

Manning was fined $256,000 in fines for refusing to testify, according to the judge.

She had not been released from jail as of Thursday evening and was still being held in the Alexandria Detention Center, her lawyer, Moira Meltzer-Cohen, told CNN.

Earlier this week, Manning attempted suicide and she was taken to a hospital, her lawyers said.

“Chelsea Manning attempted to take her own life. She was taken to a hospital and is currently recovering,” her legal team said in a statement Wednesday. Alexandria, Virginia, Sheriff Dana Lawhorne confirmed that there was an incident at the Alexandria jail involving Manning, but did not provide additional details.

Prosecutors appear to have met with Trenga privately on Thursday, before he decided to release Manning, according to court records.

Manning was jailed for nearly two months for refusing to testify before another grand jury in March 2019. During that spell of detainment, she was issued a second subpoena to appear before the grand jury. She was released from federal custody for about a week, before she was once again found in contempt by a federal judge and ordered to return to jail.

Manning was convicted in 2013 for leaking to WikiLeaks millions of State Department cables and a classified video of a US helicopter firing on civilians and journalists in Iraq in 2007.

Her sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama and she served about seven years in military prison until her release in May 2017.

The subpoenas for Manning last year appeared to signal an ongoing investigation into WikiLeaks and potentially its founder Julian Assange, who has been indicted in the Northern Virginia federal court and is facing extradition from the UK.

Also about a week ago, the trial of another accused WikiLeaks leaker ended in deadlock on the most serious of charges.

Federal Judge Paul Crotty on Monday declared a mistrial on eight counts against Joshua Schulte, the former CIA employee charged with the largest leak of classified data in CIA history. Two of the most serious charges included gathering and transmitting national defense information. After six days of deliberations, the jury found Schulte guilty of two lesser charges, making false statements and criminal contempt of court.

Manning has been held in jail since May 2019 for refusing to testify before a grand jury about the leak of federal information to WikiLeaks. She was fined daily, at first $500 a day and then $1,000 a day. The judge said she wouldn’t be held for longer than 18 months.

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