Former Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower Chelsea Manning warned Sunday that the Trump administration “clearly wants to go after journalists” and predicted that the Justice Department would prosecute reporters covering national security and other “disruptive” topics.
“I think that ultimately what they really want is they want to go after journalists,” she told host Brian Stelter on CNN’s “Reliable Sources.”
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Manning was released from jail last week. In March, a federal judge found her in contempt and ordered her to a Virginia jail for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. Manning was freed because the grand jury’s term expired.
Serving in the Army under her birth name, Bradley Manning, she rose to prominence in 2010 after passing along hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and military reports to the website known for its dumps of classified documents. She was convicted by court-martial in 2013, but former President Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence in 2017.
“This administration clearly wants to go after journalists,” Manning said Sunday. “I think that if the administration gets its way as it’s laid out in repeated statements — like, ‘the media is the enemy of the people’ kind of thing — you know, then I think that we’re going to see the national security journalists and a lot of disruptive, for this administration, press — we’re probably going to see indictments and charges.”
She added: “Whenever a journalist makes a misstep, I think that they are put on notice now that the FBI and the Department of Justice are going to go after them on administration’s behalf.”
Manning said she plans to refuse another subpoena Thursday to answer questions from a different grand jury regarding WikiLeaks, potentially resulting in more jail time.
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was expelled in April from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had sought asylum for seven years, and was arrested on a longstanding bail-skipping charge.
Prosecutors subsequently revealed that he was secretly indicted by a U.S. grand jury in March 2018 on charges of conspiring with Manning to crack a password for a military computer system.