Back in 2010, a young Army soldier named Private Manning leaked classified documents to Wikileaks cofounder Julian Assange. Soon after, Manning turned to a prominent hacker/reporter named Adrian Lamo, who turned Manning in to U.S. authorities. Ten years later, the world and lives of these three people are forever changed, and it’s hard to tell whether it was a good or bad thing.
Private Bradley Manning became Chelsea Manning while serving a military prison sentence for treason. The world viewed Manning as a hero and whistleblower, but the government disagreed. Manning was court martialed in July 2013 and convicted of 17 of the 22 offenses she was charged with, including violations of the Espionage Act. For this, she was sentenced to 35 years in military prison. Manning spent seven years in military prison, from 2010 through 2017, when exiting President Barrack Obama commuted her sentence.
Adrian Lamo was seen by the mainstream as a snitch and villain who took advantage of young Manning. Lamo shouldered a lot of undue blame for an event that would’ve easily gotten him sent to prison with Manning. Overwhelmed, Lamo eventually overdosed on Kratom and prescription pills at the young age of 37. The stigma would follow him through his death in 2018, and Lamo’s father was still harrassed over 2600 matters on Facebook after he passed.
Julian Assange, meanwhile, spent seven years hiding in London’s Ecuadorian Embassy before being apprehended and imprisoned. He’s currently fighting extradition to the U.S., as both English and American officials call for his head. Australian Assange was accused of sexual misconduct by Swedish authorities and disputes with the Ecuadorian embassy staff eventually led to him being turned in to authorities.
As the case against Wikileaks and Assange build, Manning was asked to testify, to which she refused. On March 8, 2019, Manning was once again imprisoned. She was held continuously for contempt of court by a U.S. District Court judge for refusing to testify to the federal grand jury against Wikileaks.
I’m now writing this article on January 22, 2020, after I received yet another email about how Manning is still being held hostage. It’s been barely three years since Manning was released, and she spent the last third of that time in prison, and for what?
Does our government not have enough information to prosecute Assange without Manning?
If it’s that close of a case that it can’t possibly be proved without her, then why is the state continuing to pursue this?
Manning already spent seven years in jail. When she came out, President Donald Trump called her an “ungrateful traitor,” and she’s arguably one of the most famous trans women in the world. This is how the United Nations noticed her inhumane treatment by the United States.
Manning was only free for 22 months when thrown back in jail. There, she’s seen the life she barely had time to rebuild be destroyed. Manning has built something from nothing already, and I know how it feels to have that taken away again. She’s not going to be comfortable when she gets out – how could she be?
Unless she testifies, which she has no intent of doing, Manning will continue to be held for the entire 18-month grand jury. In addition, she’s being fined $1000 per day she’s held in custody. By the time she gets out in time for Christmas 2020, Manning will be deeply in debt with little chance of earning a living besides continuing to pursue her public career.
This means that by destroying her life as a normal citizen, the U.S. government is granting her a whistleblower’s life that she can never turn back from. Manning is essentially forced to spend the rest of her life escalating her ethical fight. In short – in attempting to silence the whistleblower, the U.S. created a much worse monster. Manning has the heart of an activist, which is what gains her respect from many. She also has the aspirations of a politician.
What the U.S. government is doing right now may destroy Assange the way Lamo destroyed himself, but Manning…the adversity is polishing this gem of a woman into someone who will get back up and push to change the world in the 2020s. I can almost promise you we haven’t seen the book close on her story.
Here’s the story from The Sparrow Project
Alexandria, VA — This week Nils Melzer, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment published a letter to the U.S. government dated November 1, 2019, condemning the incarceration of Chelsea Manning, calling such coercive confinement “torture” in violation of international law, and recommending her immediate release. He also recommends that any disproportionate fines levied against her be cancelled. The letter was made public following a customary 60-day window pending any government response.
Said S.R. Melzer:
“…I recommend that Ms. Manning’s current deprivation of liberty be promptly reviewed in light of the United States’ international human rights obligations. Should my assessment regarding its purely coercive purpose be accurate, I recommend that Ms. Manning be released without further delay, and that any fines disproportionate to the gravity of any offence she may have committed be cancelled or reimbursed.”
The letter was announced by Melzer via Twitter late December 30, 2019, stating:
“…the continued detention of @xychelsea is not a lawful sanction but an open-ended, progressively severe coercive measure amounting to torture & should be discontinued & abolished without delay”
In the letter, Melzer also condemns the United States’ practice of what he considers to be “prolonged coercive confinement” which “involves the intentional infliction of progressively severe mental and emotional suffering for the purposes of coercion and intimidation at the order of judicial authorities.” He added that “victims of prolonged coercive confinement have demonstrated post-traumatic symptoms and other severe and persistent mental and physical health consequences.”
According to Ms. Manning:
“My long-standing objection to the immoral practice of throwing people in jail without charge or trial, for the sole purpose of forcing them to testify before a secret, government-run investigative panel, remains strong.
“Nearly every other legal system in the world condemns coercive confinement, and long ago replaced secret grand juries with public hearings. I am thrilled to see the practice of coercive confinement called out for what it is: incompatible with international human rights standards. Regardless, even knowing I am very likely to stay in jail for an even longer time, I’m never backing down.”
Moira Meltzer-Cohen, Manning’s attorney, said:
“Special Rapporteur Melzer has issued a legally rigorous condemnation of the practice of coercive confinement, and of Ms. Manning’s confinement in particular. While the United States has so far failed to live up to its human rights obligations, I remain hopeful that the government will reconsider its policies in light of the UN’s admonition.
“In any case, there can be no further doubt that Ms. Manning has the courage of her convictions, and will never agree to testify before a grand jury, even at great personal cost. As S.R. Melzer notes, since her confinement is not having the intended coercive effect, she must be released.”
Although S.R. Melzer has requested a clarifying response from the United States, he makes clear his settled conclusion that the practice of coercive confinement violates international human rights law, and recommends Ms. Manning’s immediate release pending any response or investigation. In the two months since the letter was conveyed to the United States, Ms. Manning has remained confined, and the daily fines imposed upon her have continued to accrue.