New York City – The World Socialist Website reports that in an official letter to the US government, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer stated that its ongoing imprisonment of Chelsea Manning is a violation of international law “fulfilling all the constitutive elements of torture or other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment.” Manning has been jailed since May 16th “in contempt of court” for refusing to give testimony to a grand jury against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and potentially other representatives of the media organization.

In his letter on Manning, sent in October and publicly released on December 30th, Melzer noted that the courageous whistleblower had been the subject of an “urgent appeal” by his predecessor in 2010.

At the time, Manning, awaiting trial for having leaked the damning US army and diplomatic documents, was being held in brutal conditions of solitary confinement in a military prison. She was denied adequate medical treatment and attempted suicide twice. Manning was eventually convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to decades in prison. Manning was released in 2017 when former President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in the dying days of his presidency. Melzer wrote: “I express serious concern at the reported use of coercive measures against Ms. Manning, particularly given the history of her previous conviction and ill-treatment in detention.” The UN official wrote that Manning was being held under draconian legislation, which enables judges to seek to coerce witnesses into testifying before a grand jury.

In a statement responding to Melzer’s letter published on Sparrow Media last week, Manning declared: “My long-standing objection to the immoral practice of throwing people in jail without charge or trial, for the sole purpose of forcing them to testify before a secret, government-run investigative panel, remains strong. Nearly every other legal system in the world condemns coercive confinement, and long ago replaced secret grand juries with public hearings. I am thrilled to see the practice of coercive confinement called out for what it is: incompatible with international human rights standards. Regardless, even knowing I am very likely to stay in jail for an even longer time, I’m never backing down.” (World Socialist – Oscar Grenfell at Wsws.org/en/articles/2020/01/09/mann-j09.html)