(Adds quotes from Manning news conference)
By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON, May 16 (Reuters) - Former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning said on Thursday she will not comply with a fresh grand jury subpoena to testify about her contacts with WikiLeaks and will ask a federal court to quash it.
“Attempting to coerce me with a grand jury subpoena is not going to work. I will not cooperate with this or any other grand jury,” Manning said before entering the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia, for a hearing.
Earlier in May, Manning was freed after spending 62 days in a Virginia jail after being found in contempt for refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.
Manning was released from jail after that grand jury’s term expired. Before her release, she was served with another subpoena requiring her to testify before a new grand jury, which is continuing to investigate WikiLeaks.
“Facing jail again, potentially today, doesn’t change my stance,” she said.
Manning was convicted by U.S. Army court-martial in 2013 of espionage and other offenses for furnishing more than 700,000 documents and other materials to WikiLeaks while she was an intelligence analyst in Iraq. President Barack Obama reduced Manning’s sentence to seven years from 35 years.
Spokesman Andy Stepanian said Manning’s lawyers also have asked the court to order the government to disclose any evidence it has that Manning was targeted by U.S. agencies for electronic surveillance.
“We do believe we have strong evidence that unlawful electronic surveillance has taken place,” Manning told reporters.
Federal prosecutors recently unsealed an indictment issued in secret in late 2017 against Julian Assange, the Australian-born hacker who founded WikiLeaks.
The indictment alleges Assange conspired with Manning to try to crack a password stored on U.S. Defense Department computers connected to a classified government data network.
Manning’s lawyers maintain that, since the grand jury is only an investigative tool and cannot be used by prosecutors to prepare for trials, the subpoena for Manning “represents an improper and impermissible use of the grand jury process,” according to Stepanian.
U.S. prosecutors publicly released the indictment against Assange after the WikiLeaks founder was forcibly evicted from Ecuador’s London embassy, where he took refuge in 2012 fearing extradition to the United States or Sweden. Assange is now serving a 50-week British prison sentence for bail jumping while U.S. and Swedish authorities seek his extradition. (Reporting by Mark Hosenball; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Phil Berlowitz and Tom Brown)