Chelsea Manning speaks at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, U.S., March 13, 2018. REUTERS/Suzanne Cordeiro
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning, facing a fresh grand jury subpoena to testify about her contacts with WikiLeaks, will ask a federal court on Thursday to quash the subpoena, a spokesman for her legal team said.
Spokesman Andy Stepanian also said Manning’s lawyers have asked the court to order the government to disclose any evidence it has that Manning was targeted by U.S. agencies for electronic surveillance.
According to Stepanian, Manning’s lawyers maintain that, since the grand jury is only an investigative tool and cannot be used by prosecutors to prepare for trials, the subpoena for Manning “represents an improper and impermissible use of the grand jury process.”
Earlier in May, Manning was freed after spending 62 days in a Virginia jail after being found in contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.
Manning was released from jail after that grand jury’s term expired. Before her release, she was served with another subpoena requiring her to testify before a new grand jury, which is continuing to investigate WikiLeaks.
Federal prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia, where Thursday’s hearing on the latest subpoena will be heard, recently unsealed an indictment issued in secret in late 2017 against Julian Assange, the Australian-born hacker who founded and led WikiLeaks.
The indictment alleges Assange conspired with Manning to try to crack a password stored on U.S. Defense Department computers connected to a classified government data network.
U.S. prosecutors publicly released the indictment against Assange after the WikiLeaks founder was forcibly evicted from Ecuador’s London Embassy, where he took refuge in 2012 fearing extradition to the United States or Sweden. Assange is now serving a 50-week British prison sentence for bail jumping while U.S. and Swedish authorities seek his extradition.
Manning was convicted by U.S. Army court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for furnishing more than 700,000 documents and other materials to WikiLeaks while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq. President Barack Obama reduced Manning’s sentence to 7 years from 35 years.
Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Phil Berlowitz