After being released from prison, Chelsea Manning uploaded a video for the first time in 10 months, and posted on Twitter that she is "back online…but there's still a long fight ahead."
She started her speech by noting that she objects to Grand juries “as a general principle.”
“Prosecutors runs grand juries behind closed doors, and it’s secret without a judge present. Therefore I declined to answer any questions. Based on my refusal to answer questions, district court judge Hilton ordered me held in contempt until the grand jury ended. Yesterday the grand jury expired and I left the Alexandria Detention Centre,” the whistleblower says in the video.
Then, she switched to sharing with the audience her feelings in respect to support – “an incredible spring of solidarity and love” — she received while staying in prison.
“I received thousands of letters, including dozens to hundreds of them a day. This means the world to me, and it keeps me going,” she said.
She also commented that due to her post-surgery vulnerable state of health, she experienced additional issues from being in detention and "is now seeking treatment" for complications.
“Jails and prisons exist as a dark stain on our society, with more people confined in the US than anywhere else in the world. During my time I spent 28 days in solitary confinement. A traumatic experience that I already endured for a year in prison before,” she said.
She also noted that the law “requires that civil contempt only be used to coerce witnesses to testify” and as she “can’t be coerced” the contempt was “an additional punishment on top of the seven years” she has already served.
Then, she recalled a statement she wrote last week, where she outlined that she “will never agree to testify before this or any other grand jury.”
“Several of my closest family friends and colleagues supported this fact. Our statements were filed in court. The government knows that I can’t be coerced.
Commenting on her upcoming visit to the court on 16 May, she reaffirmed the previous statement.
“When I arrive at the courthouse, this coming Thursday, what happened last time will occur again. I will not cooperate with this or any other grand jury. Throughout the last decade, I have accepted full responsibility for my actions in 2010. Facing jail again this week does not change this fact. The prosecutors deliberately placed me in an impossible situation: either I go to jail or I turn my back on the principles that I have. The truth is the government can construct no prison worse than to betray my own conscience and my principles. Thank you and good night,” Manning concluded.
Chelsea Manning will be back in court on May 16, trying to convince a new grand jury what she failed to prove to the last one: that she cannot be forced to cooperate, as she fundamentally disagrees with the concept of a grand jury, which she says use activists' testimonies against them.
Manning was previously detained for seven years, from 2010 until 2017, for having stolen secret US documents proving the US military committed — and covered up — war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. She published them via WikiLeaks, the document-leaking website founded by Julian Assange, about whom the grand jury presently seeks Manning's testimony.