Brussels, March 16 2020 – A District Court in Virginia, United States, ordered the release of whistleblower Chelsea Manning on 13 March. Manning was jailed in March 2019 for refusing to cooperate in a federal grand jury investigation into WikiLeaks.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) welcomes Manning’s release but reaffirmed its position that she should have never been arrested and urged the authorities to drop the fines imposed on her.
Chelsea Manning, a former army intelligence analyst for the United States in Iraq, served 11 months in jail after her refusal to testify in the Wikileaks case. While serving in Iraq in 2010, Manning acted as a whistleblower and shared information with Wikileaks about crimes and brutalities committed by the US army during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
The federal judge ruled that Manning should be released after considering that her testimony in the ongoing Wikileaks investigation is no longer needed.
“The court finds Ms Manning’s appearance before the Grand Jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose”, the judge said.
The decision came a day after Chelsea Manning attempted suicide in jail.
Despite her release, Manning still faces very high fines imposed by the judge for her refusal to testify. Fines are up to $256,000, which she is expected to pay, even though they were only imposed to coerce her to speak.
IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We welcome Chelsea Manning’s release and praise her strength and courage to face this abusive legal process against her. She deserves our biggest recognition and admiration. She should have never been sent to prison for refusing to testify and it is time the authorities stopped harassing whistleblowers and dropped all the economic fines imposed on her”.