- The Washington Times - Monday, October 12, 2015

Pvt. Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst convicted of disclosing state secrets to document-dumping group WikiLeaks, is suing the Justice Department over the government’s failure to heed her Freedom of Information Act requests.

Attorneys for Pvt. Manning, 27, who is currently serving a 35-year prison sentence for charges related to her role with WikiLeaks, filed the federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia on Thursday.

At the heart of the complaint is Pvt. Manning’s long-standing request for documents and other evidence gathered by the Justice Department and FBI during the course of its investigation into the soldier and other possible WikiLeaks sources.

The imprisoned WikiLeaks source served the U.S. Army under her birth name, Bradley Manning, and came out as a transwoman in 2013. She has since legally changed her name to Chelsea Manning, and earlier this year successfully petitioned the Department of Defense to receive hormone-replacement therapy while behind bars. Her attorneys are currently pursuing legal action in order to allow the soldier to grow out her hair while incarcerated.

Pvt. Manning was arrested at an Army base near Baghdad in 2010 and convicted three years later of espionage, theft, computer fraud and other charges stemming from her involvement in WikiLeaks, the secret-spilling website that published a trove of classified government documents supplied by the soldier.

In February 2014, Pvt. Manning filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Justice Dept. for any and all documents, papers, reports, letters and other material relating to the government investigation of the WikiLeaks source, as well as evidence concerning any “alleged civilian co-conspirators” who aided in those disclosures.

Nearly two years later, however, the government has avoided handing over any documents thus far by insisting they’re protected by a provision that exempts records or information that’s been “compiled for law enforcement proceedings.”

The federal government said disclosing the evidence “could reasonably be expected to interfere with enforcement proceedings.” Pvt. Manning’s attorneys say this argument is invalid, however, since “any attempt to prosecute Plaintiff in federal criminal court would violate Plaintiff’s double jeopardy rights.”

“Without the ability to prosecute Plaintiff for the alleged conduct underlying their investigation, Defendants have no reasonable basis to withhold the requested records. Nor will any privacy concerns be implicated by disclosing the records to Plaintiff because she is the subject of the FBI’s investigation,” Nancy Hollander, an attorney for Manning, wrote in the complaint.

“We want the government to respond properly to this FOIA as they should,” Ms. Hollander told Courthouse News Service this week.

Besides Pvt. Manning, no American has yet to be formally charged with any crimes related to providing documentation to WikiLeaks

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