Chelsea Manning Says ‘Unlawful Surveillance’ Spurred WikiLeaks Subpoena
A new filing also says prosecutors believe Manning may have given “false or mistaken” testimony about WikiLeaks.
Federal prosecutors believe that Chelsea Manning may have given “false or mistaken” testimony during her 2013 court-martial for leaking classified material to WikiLeaks, Manning’s attorney disclosed in a newly unsealed court filing.
Manning has been in jail since March 3, when a federal judge found her in contempt for refusing to testify in front of the Alexandria, Virginia, grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. The grand jury probe began in 2010, when the secret-spilling website began dumping hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and U.S. Army field reports Manning leaked to Julian Assange during a deployment to Iraq.
At her court-martial in 2013, Manning gave a lengthy statement detailing her motives and accepting personal responsibility for the leaks. Now prosecutors are claiming they have new information that some of her testimony was inaccurate, according to Manning’s lawyer, who thinks someone has been spying on her client.
“The concern here is that the subpoena as a whole is the product of unlawful—and possibly misunderstood—electronic surveillance,” attorney Moira Meltzer-Cohen wrote in a March 1 motion to block the subpoena that was unsealed Wednesday.
The grand jury subpoena followed what Manning describes as a continuous pattern of physical and electronic surveillance against her that began after her early release from prison in 2017 on a clemency grant from President Obama.
“Since her release, Ms. Manning has experienced all manner of intrusive surveillance, including surveillance vans parked outside her apartment, federal agents following her, and strangers attempting to goad her into an absurdly contrived conversation about selling dual-use technologies to foreign actors,” wrote Meltzer-Cohen.
“In preliminary discussions, the prosecution indicated that they had reason to believe that Ms. Manning may have made statements inconsistent with her prior testimony,” the attorney wrote. “It is incumbent upon the court to direct the government to disclose not only electronic surveillance of Ms. Manning, but whether they intercepted communications authored and sent by third parties, as there are no such statements by Ms. Manning herself that would be at variance with her previous testimony.”
Manning argued that the subpoena violated her First Amendment free-speech and -association rights, abused the grand jury process, and relied on illegal surveillance. To keep Manning from successfully asserting a Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, the Justice Department and the Army both issued her formal grants of immunity for any testimony she gave to the WikiLeaks grand jury.
U.S. District Judge Claude Hilton rejected Manning’s arguments this month and ordered her to testify. She refused, and was later taken into custody, where she can be held for as long as the current grand jury panel is seated.
Still under seal in the case is a sworn declaration Manning wrote in support of the surveillance claim, including “phone numbers and email addresses that she has reason to believe were subject to surveillance, and the range of dates on which such surveillance may have occurred; various places that may have been subject to surveillance, and the names of the lessees/licensees of those premises,” according to the motion.
Manning also described being the target of a Project Veritas-style hidden-camera sting in which an unknown “non-state actor” tried to get her talking about “unlawful uses of technology.”