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Trans whistleblower Chelsea Manning has just been made a free woman

Nick Duffy March 12, 2020
Former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning

Former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

A judge has ordered the release of whistleblower Chelsea Manning, after she spent a year back behind bars.

Manning, a former intelligence analyst, is best known for exposing US war crimes by leaking classified documents – and came out as transgender while serving a prison sentence in 2013.

She was freed after having her sentence commuted by Barack Obama in 2016 – but jailed once again in March 2019, after being held in contempt of court for refusing to testify before a federal grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.

After the activist spent a year imprisoned and refusing to testify, on Thursday a judge signed an order to free Manning – ruling that her testimony before the grand jury is no longer necessary.

Chelsea Manning freed by judge after another year behind bars

US district judge Anthony Trenga wrote: “Ms Manning’s appearance before the Grand Jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose… is hereby ordered that Chelsea Manning be, and she hereby is, immediately released from the custody of the Attorney General.”

Manning is expected to be freed imminently after the ruling.

However, it was not all good news for the activist – as the judge declined to waive the $1,000-dollar-per-day fines levied against her over her year refusing to testify.

Trenga held that the fines are not “punitive” and are “necessary to the coercive purpose of the Court’s civil contempt order”, meaning that Manning is now required to pay $256,000.

Chelsea Manning will be freed
Chelsea Manning will be freed (Photo: Free Chelsea Manning)

The ruling comes one day after Manning was rushed to hospital after trying to kill herself while in jail.

Her lawyers confirmed the incident, condemning the “profound harm she continues to suffer” due to her confinement.

The Alexandria sheriff, Dana Lawhorne, said: “There was an incident at approximately 12.11pm today at the Alexandria adult detention centre involving inmate Chelsea Manning.

“It was handled appropriately by our professional staff and Ms Manning is safe.”

If you are in the US and are having suicidal thoughts, suffering from anxiety or depression, or just want to talk, call the National Suicide Prevention Line on 1-800-273-8255. If you are in the UK, you can contact Samaritans on 116 123 or email [email protected]

More: chelsea manning, Trans, Transgender

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