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Chelsea Manning: Trump admin ‘clearly wants to go after journalists’



Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst turned whistleblower, said Sunday that the Trump administration “clearly wants to go after journalists.”

Manning spoke to CNN’s Brian Stelter in her first televised interview after leaving jail. She was released Thursday after 62 days in a Virginia jail on civil contempt charges, after she refused to testify to a grand jury regarding WikiLeaks.

Her remarks come amid fierce debate over whether US prosecutors’ charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange amount to an attack on press freedom. The Justice Department has accused Assange of conspiring with Manning to hack into a government computer, and First Amendment advocates have fretted that such charges set a dangerous precedent.

Read more: The DOJ’s indictment of Julian Assange ignited a fierce debate between First Amendment advocates and national-security experts, and it’s a harbinger of what lies ahead

“I think that the Eastern District of Virginia is now turned into a rubber stamp for all these different prosecutions. I think that ultimately what they really want is they want to go after journalists,” she said. “This administration clearly wants to go after journalists.”

Manning said people should expect to see indictments against national security reporters, especially given President Donald Trump’s hostility towards the media.

“I think that if the administration gets its way, as its laid out in repeated statements, like the ‘media is the enemy of the people’ kind of thing, I think that we’re going to see that national security journalists and a lot of disruptive press — we’re probably going to see indictments and charges,” Manning said. “There are so many federal offenses, the average American commits three felonies a day. So whenever a journalist makes a misstep, I think they’re put on notice now that the FBI and the Department of Justice are going to go after them on the administration’s behalf.”

Read more: After 62 days Chelsea Manning was released from a Virginia jail — but her freedom could be short-lived

Chelsea Manning addresses the media outside federal court in Alexandria, Va. The former Army intelligence analyst was ordered to jail Friday, March 8, 2019, for refusing to testify to a Virginia grand jury investigating Wikileaks.
AP Photo/Matthew Barakat

Manning could very well end up back in jail in the coming days, as she told Stelter she intends to refuse to comply with another subpoena from a different grand jury regarding WikiLeaks.

“They’ve already stipulated that they want to ask the same questions,” Manning said. “So this is not about anything new. They’re not even asking anything new. I’ve already laid all of this out.”

Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years in military prison for leaking documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, but former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence after she had served seven years.

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