Assange Indictment Further Proof of No Just Cause to Detain Chelsea Manning
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org – Home – Stephen Lendman)
Like countless others, Manning and Assange are imperial state victims, targeted for doing the right thing, for exposing US high crimes, not for any wrongdoing.
On March 8, Manning was detained for refusing to give grand jury testimony, her constitutional right not to do or say anything that might unscrupulously be used against her or Assange.
The US grand jury system is flagrantly unconstitutional. Manning was fully justified saying she would “not comply with this, or any grand jury” because it violates her fundamental rights.
Time and again, it’s used “to entrap and persecute activists for protected political speech,” she explained – a “predatory practice” she rejects, citing her First, Fourth, and Sixth Amendment, and other statutory rights.
Unjustifiably detained, her First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eight Amendment rights were violated. She was wrongfully imprisoned for invoking her free expression rights, justifiably revealing US high crimes of war and against humanity in Afghanistan and Iraq.
A former New York Court of Appeals chief judge once said under the US grand jury system, prosecutors control what jurors hear. Their manipulative practices can “indict a ham sandwich” – an overstatement to highlight an unjust predatory system.
Instead of protecting the public from oppressive governance, prosecutorial manipulation violates fundamental constitutional rights, doing whatever it takes to get indictments sought.
Witnesses risk unwitting self-incrimination, even when guilty of no crimes, denied their Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in cases where prosecutors impose immunity – yet able to game the system to their advantage if wanting a witness indicted.
That’s why Manning refused to cooperate, invoking her constitutional right to remain silent, free from possible unwitting self-incrimination, along with potentially helping the prosecutor build a case against Julian Assange, why the grand jury she was called before to testify was convened in the first place.
Manning’s support team provided further proof of why she’s unjustifiably detained. Assange’s indictment came a year ago to the day before she appeared before the grand jury, refusing to give testimony, her support team saying the following:
“The fact that (Assange’s) indictment has existed for over a year (since March 6, 2018) underscores what Chelsea’s legal team and Chelsea herself have been saying since she was first issued a subpoena to appear in front of a Federal Grand Jury in the Eastern District of Virginia — that compelling Chelsea to testify would have been duplicative of evidence already in the possession of the grand jury, and was not needed in order for US Attorneys to obtain an indictment of Mr. Assange,” adding:
“Grand Juries may not be used for the sole and dominant purpose of preparing for trial, including questioning potential trial witnesses.”
“Since her testimony can no longer contribute to a grand jury investigation, Chelsea’s ongoing detention can no longer be seriously alleged to constitute an attempt to coerce her testimony. As continued detention would be purely punitive, we demand Chelsea be released.”
On April 11, her legal team filed an addendum to their appeal, asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA to dismiss District Court Judge Claude Hilton’s March 8 contempt charge against her.
She’s confined in punitive isolation for invoking her constitutional rights -unconstitutionally rejected by the lower court judge.
Assange’s unsealed indictment strengthens her legal team’s claim of grand jury abuse. The appeals court should order her release immediately.
Otherwise, she could be detained as a political prisoner indefinitely. At the completion of the current grand jury’s work, she can be subpoenaed to testify before a newly convened grand jury – a way to keep her imprisoned longterm.
A Final Comment
In response to Assange’s unlawful arrest and detention in London, the Center for Constitutional Rights issued the following statement:
“Mr. Assange’s arrest and possible extradition to face charges related to an alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to publish documents that exposed corruption and criminality by numerous private businesses, tyrants, and countries worldwide is ultimately an attack on press freedom.”
“The arrest sets a dangerous precedent that could extend to other media organizations…particularly (by) a vindictive and reckless (US regime) that regularly attacks journalistic enterprises that, just like WikiLeaks, publish leaked materials that expose government corruption and wrongdoing.”
“This is a worrying step on the slippery slope to punishing any journalist the Trump (regime) chooses to deride as ‘fake news.’ ”
“It comes in the backdrop of even further cruelty toward and imprisonment of Chelsea Manning, who continues to defend the integrity of her heroic decision to act as a whistleblower and expose US government atrocities it committed in (Afghanistan and) Iraq.”
“The United States should finally seek to come to terms with the war crimes in (both countries and numerous others) that it has committed rather than attack and imprison those who sought to expose the truth…”
Note: On May 2, an extradition hearing will determine whether Assange will be handed over to US authorities. It’s virtually certain, why he was arrested on Thursday.
He’s also highly likely to be falsely charged with further offenses – notably espionage under the long ago outdated 1917 Espionage Act, what got Manning sentenced to 35 years in prison.
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