Chelsea Manning Will Never Testify, Argues Courts Should Release Her

Federal law only allows continued detention if there's a chance detention will force her to testify

Whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been held in detention in Alexandria, VA for the last two months on “contempt” charges for refusing to testify against WikiLeaks. On Monday, her legal team issued a new legal argument seeking release.

The argument is seen in an 8-page legal filing, which at its core is that she is never going to testify against WikiLeaks, and that subsequently there is no legal basis for keeping her and demanding she do so anymore.

This appears to be accurate, based on federal law. The law only requires open-ended contempt detentions, like the one Manning is in, if there is reason to believe that there is a chance the detention will  eventually coerce the detainee into testifying. Thus, if Manning will never testify, there is no legal basis to keep her.

This is going to be a difficult legal battle, despite what the law says, because judges depend on these detentions to coerce people into testifying. If the letter of the law also becomes legal precedent, that people who won’t testify can be released, it will make the illegal threat of open-ended detentions that much weaker.

In addition to the argument for release, the legal filing details, in Manning’s own words, her worsening health, her lack of medical access, and suffering symptoms of prolonged isolation described by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.