Former US intelligence analyst and whistleblower Chelsea Manning reportedly attempted suicide in her prison cell, around midnight on March 11, Wednesday. This was revealed to the media by Manning’s lawyers after she was moved to a hospital in the middle of the night. While the details are not yet out, the hospital administration and her defense team have stated that Manning is now stable and recovering.
Manning has been under almost continuous judicial sanctions since April 2019 for twice refusing to testify before a grand jury in the Wikileaks investigations case. Her refusal is on the grounds that she has already stated all she had to at the time when she was being indicted for leaking secret documents to Wikileaks.
The current set of sanctions began in May 2019 after a federal judge held her under remand indefinitely, along with imposing an exorbitant fine of up to USD 1,000 per day. The sanctions were put in place at the behest of federal prosecutors representing the Trump administration to push Manning to testify before the grand jury. US prosecutors have been aggressively following the case against Wikileaks and its founder Julian Assange.
The sanctions have added up to nearly 10 months in prison and a total of USD 250,000 so far, an amount she is not in a position to pay. Despite the harsh sanctions, Manning has conscientiously refused to cooperate with the investigation. The suicide attempt comes within days of her upcoming hearing, when the court will hear her defense team’s plea for her release.
Last month, Manning’s defense team filed a new plea arguing that she cannot be pushed into testifying. They also submitted a report by UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, who has noted that the sanctions against Manning despite the knowledge of her refusal to testify amount to torture and coercion.