The whistleblower and activist released a video statement after leaving prison on Friday
Whistleblower, activist, and campaigner for LGBTQ and incarceration rights Chelsea Manning was released from prison after 62 days of confinement on May 10. Manning had been held in isolation in what have been deemed abusive conditions, which were condemned by her supporters, and she’s since released a statement to thank them.
The video statement, uploaded to YouTube, begins with footage of Manning exiting prison and transitions to a verbal statement that lays out her situation.
It also touches on her motivations behind defying a grand jury (the reason for her imprisonment), with Manning stating that she objects to grand juries “as a general principle”.
Generally, grand juries are criticised and resisted because of their inherent secrecy. They are used to establish “probable cause” that a felony offense has been committed and whether charges can be brought, all without the presence of a judge or defense attorney. The Grand Jury Resistance Project – which is made up of lawyers, activists, and those “targeted by government harassment” – has traced this dishonest procedure back through various liberation movements to the McCarthy era.
Another, more positive focus of Manning’s statement, is the support she received while in confinement. “An incredible spring of solidarity and love has boiled over,” says Manning, citing the “thousands of letters” she received. We’ve previously compiled some of the heartfelt messages from her friends and allies.
The new-found freedom may not last long, though. Her release was due to the expiration of the grand jury she defied, but a new subpoena has called for her to appear before another grand jury as early as next week.
But Manning’s message remains strong. “Either I go to jail, or I turn my back on the principles I have,” she says in the statement. “The truth is, the government can construct no prison worse than to betray my own conscience and my principles.”
Watch the statement in full below.