March 12, 2020 "Information
Clearing House" US District Judge
Anthony J. Trenga ordered whistleblower Chelsea
Manning released from detention on Thursday, a day
after she attempted to take her own life. However,
he did not release her from the fines she incurred
as punishment, which total a quarter of a million
"Upon consideration of the Court's May 16, 2019,
order, the motion, and the court's March 12, 2020,
order discharging Grand Jury 19-3, the court finds
that Ms. Manning's appearance before the grand jury
is no longer needed, in light of which her detention
no longer serves any coercive purpose,"
Judge Trenga wrote in a Thursday court order.
"The court further finds that enforcement of the
accrued conditional fines would not be punitive but
rather necessary to the coercive purpose of the
court's civil contempt order."
"According, it is hereby ordered that Chelsea
Manning be, and she hereby is, immediately
released from the custody of the attorney
general," he wrote.
However, the judge denied Manning's request to
have waived $256,000 in fines she had accrued since
the previous May, which he added as an additional
coercive measure to try and force her to testify.
The decision comes
a day after Manning attempted to end her life
while in Virginia's Alexandria Detention Center and
a day before she was due to appear in court
February 19 motion for her release. She has been
in detention since March 2019 for her refusal to
testify before a grand jury about her interactions
with WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, who helped
her publish a trove of stolen US government
documents in 2010 revealing US war crimes in Iraq
and Afghanistan. Manning, then a US Army
intelligence analyst, was tried and sentenced to 35
years in prison in 2013 for that crime, but released
in 2017 when departing US President Barack Obama
commuted her sentence.
Her detention has been
protested by tens of thousands of activists,
academics, politicians, and sympathetic persons,
including the United Nations' special rapporteur on
torture, Nils Melzer, who wrote a letter to the US
government in November denouncing her treatment and
calling for her release.