After nearly two months in jail, political prisoner Chelsea Manning submitted an appeal Monday to the federal court in the Eastern District of Virginia asking for her release from jail.
The whistleblower and political prisoner has been imprisoned in the Alexandria City Jail since March 8. She was arrested on contempt of court charges after she refused to testify before a grand jury against journalist and WikiLeaks publisher, Julian Assange.
“She is convinced that to cooperate with this grand jury would be a betrayal of her beliefs about the grand jury process, and this grand jury process in particular,” Manning’s attorneys told the court in a written statement Monday. “She is prepared to suffer the consequences for her beliefs, and it should surprise nobody to find that she has the courage of her convictions.” Manning said that betraying her principles is “a much worse prison than the government can construct”
Manning is being targeted by the Trump administration as part of a long-running vendetta against her and Julian Assange for exposing the US government’s war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“After two months of confinement, and using every legal mechanism available so far, I can—without any hesitation—state that nothing will convince me to testify before this or any other grand jury for that matter,” Manning wrote. “With each passing day my disappointment and frustration grow, but so too do my commitments to doing the right thing and continuing to refuse to submit.”
“The idea I hold the keys to my own cell is an absurd one, as I face the prospect of suffering either way due to this unnecessary and punitive subpoena: I can either go to jail or betray my principles,” Manning declared. “The latter exists as a much worse prison than the government can construct.”
Manning served seven years in a military prison after she was convicted of leaking documents exposing US war crimes to WikiLeaks in 2010. Most notably was the release of the “Collateral Murder” video, which shows the 2007 attack by US Apache helicopter gunships in Baghdad that killed two journalists and at least a dozen Iraqis civilians.
As her attorneys noted in previous appeals for her release, Manning says that she has already given the government everything she knows during trial in 2013 and that any further testimony would be duplicative.
Manning’s statement describes the horrible impact the enforced isolation has had on her mental health, which has been compounded by the year of solitary confinement she suffered when she was imprisoned under the Obama administration.
“I experienced difficulty keeping attention on anything, sometimes referred to as a ‘dissociative stupor.’ Thinking and concentrating get harder. Anxiety, frustration with minor things, irritation, and a spiraling inability to tolerate each symptom take hold,” she explained. “At one point I started feeling ill during a short visit in a non-contact visit booth while struggling to have even a normal conversation. After weeks of under-stimulation, I became nauseated with vertigo and vomited on the floor, ending my visit prematurely.”
Image adapted from: “Free Radical: Chelsea Manning with Vogue’s Sally Singer” by Fredrik Lundhag is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0