Chelsea Manning has been incarcerated since the transgender female refused to testify before a grand jury regarding WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. She has received a daily fine of $1,000 for refusing to comply with federal demands.
A judge ruled today that these fines were not excessive, and Manning is expected to stay imprisoned for one year for contempt of court.
“Manning has the ability to comply with the court’s financial sanctions or will have the ability after her release from confinement,” Judge Anthony Trenga ruled. “Therefore, the imposed fines of $500 per day after 30 days and $1,000 per day after 60 days is not so excessive as to relieve her of those sanctions or to constitute punishment rather than a coercive measure.”
Despite the ongoing persecution, Manning remains empowered to make her stand as she believes that her decision to release confidential materials to WikiLeaks exposing U.S. military war crimes was justified.
“I am disappointed but not at all surprised. The government and the judge must know by now that this doesn’t change my position one bit,” Manning said, giving her response to the Judge’s ruling.
Manning has currently been incarcerated for 147 days with $38,000 already being levied against her to date. She could owe up to $441,000 to the feds by the time her ordeal is said and done.
“She has no personal savings, an uncertain speaking career that has been abruptly halted by her incarceration, and is moving her few belongings into storage, as she can no longer afford to pay her rent,” Manning’s legal team stated in their motion.
“Despite the fact that Chelsea is currently deeply in debt, and cannot work while incarcerated, Judge Trenga was able to conclude that fines totalling $441,000 fall within the parameters of a ‘coercive’ sanction, and do not intrude into the forbidden realm of the punitive,” her attorneys said.
Manning is able to appeal the decision, but it is not likely to change as the deck is usually stacked against whistle-blowers, particularly with the feds desperate to make an example of Assange for divulging a treasure trove of information to make the U.S. government seem criminal and incompetent.
“The tradition of using political grand juries to jail political dissidents and activists is long,” Manning said. “The concept of a grand jury in which prosecutors subpoena activists and jail them for refusing to comply with the subpoena stands in stark contrast to the institution contemplated in the Constitution.”
Manning denies the notion floated by the court that she holds the key to her cell and can leave at any time. She refuses to jeopardize her principles or put Assange at danger in order to save herself.
“[That key] is held in the beating heart of all I believe. To retrieve that key and do what you are asking of me, your honor, I would have to cut the key out, which would mean killing everything I hold dear, and the beliefs that defined my path,” she said.
Assange was charged with 17 felony counts under the Espionage Act in May and remains behind bars in Britain awaiting extradition. Manning refuses to comply with the witch hunt against Assange, as digital free speech comes under attack like never before.