Chelsea Manning’s team has demanded her release in light of the revelation that US charges against Julian Assange were filed over a year before her arrest on contempt charges – proving her prosecution has been “purely punitive.”
“The fact that this indictment has existed for over a year underscores what Chelsea’s legal team and Chelsea herself have been saying… that compelling Chelsea to testify would have been duplicative of evidence already in the possession of the grand jury, and was not needed in order for US Attorneys to obtain an indictment of Mr. Assange,” a statement from Manning’s “support team” on the Sparrow Project website read.
** STATEMENT: Chelsea’s legal team responds to today’s unsealed indictment. This is further evidence that the government’s continued imprisonment of Chelsea for her principled stance against grand jury secrecy is punitive, cruel and unnecessary https://t.co/WZiDuVWHPa
— Chelsea E. Manning (@xychelsea) April 11, 2019
“Since her testimony can no longer contribute to a grand jury investigation, Chelsea’s ongoing detention can no longer be seriously alleged to constitute an attempt to coerce her testimony,” the statement continued.
“As continued detention would be purely punitive, we demand Chelsea be released.”
Assange’s indictment dates from March 6, 2018 – a year and two days before Manning was jailed on contempt of court charges for refusing to respond to a secret grand jury’s questioning regarding her 2010 leak of classified military documents. Manning stated that she had already answered the questions during her 2013 court-martial and refused to testify further, citing the First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution.
Assange was arrested by UK authorities on Thursday on a seven-year-old bail-jumping charge after being expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and currently faces extradition to the US. The US indictment, filed in the Eastern District of Virginia federal court, accuses him of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion,” a charge that carries a maximum five-year sentence, but some have warned that additional charges may be filed if the US is successful in extraditing the journalist to stand trial on American soil.
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