- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2019

Chelsea Manning gave no credence Thursday to the government’s case against jailed WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, her alleged former partner in crime.

A former Army analyst previously convicted of giving WikiLeaks a trove of classified material later released online, Manning briefly discussed the indictment charging Mr. Assange prior to being jailed again following related federal court proceedings held in Alexandria, Virginia.

“I’ve read the indictment and I’ve read the affidavit that is attached to the indictment, and the case doesn’t make sense. It seems kind of bananas in comparison to the evidence that we got out and the interviews that we’ve had. So it’s just a very bananas case. I don’t know what the government is doing with that,” Manning said outside court.

Manning, 31, was found guilty during a 2013 court-martial of crimes related to her WikiLeaks disclosures and ultimately served roughly seven years behind bars prior to having most of her sentence commuted by former President Barack Obama.

Released early from prison in 2017, Manning was served with a subpoena earlier this year to testify in front of a grand jury empaneled in Alexandria, where the Justice Department has headquartered its WikiLeaks probe for nearly a decade. She refused to comply, was found in contempt and jailed for roughly two months prior to being released last week as a result of the grand jury’s 18-month term ending.

The Justice Department unsealed an indictment in the interim accusing Mr. Assange, a 47-year-old Australian native, of conspiring in 2010 to help Manning attempt to crack a password that would have allowed her to access military documents likely desired by WikiLeaks. He has been charged with conspiracy to commit computer hacking and is currently behind bars in London after being arrested April 11 at the request of U.S. authorities seeking his extradition.

Manning has since been served with another subpoena compelling her appearance Thursday afternoon in front of a new grand jury convened in Alexandria, but she refused to cooperate and was jailed for contempt for the second time in nearly as many months.

“The truth is that no matter what happens today, whether I’m placed in confinement or not, I’m not going to comply with this grand jury,” she told reporters before entering court.

“I think that ultimately the goal here is to really relitigate the court-martial, from my perspective,” said Manning. “They didn’t like the outcome: I got out. So this is a way of placing me back into confinement.”

Manning also questioned why prosecutors hoped to ask her about her WikiLeaks disclosures despite already securing a related indictment against the site’s publisher.

“If there’s already an indictment, then why are we going through the grand jury process? Because the purpose of the grand jury is to obtain indictments. It is not to review testimony or preview testimony,” she said outside of court.

“I’m not at liberty to discuss any investigations or matters before the grand jury,” U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger told reporters after Manning was jailed again for contempt. “What I can tell you is that there is a lawfully predicated reason for seeking her testimony and we’ll continue to do so.”

Mr. Assange’s next extradition hearing is set for June 12 in London.

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