Washington: A US federal judge has ordered the immediate release of Chelsea Manning, a former army analyst who released hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, following the determination that her testimony in an inquiry was no longer necessary.
Manning was taken into custody in May 2019 for refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating the whistle-blower organization, reports Efe news.
“Manning’s appearance before the grand jury is no longer needed, in light of which her detention no longer serves any coercive purpose,” ruled Judge Anthony J Trenga on Thursday.
Despite the release order, the judge upheld the $256,000 in fines she had accrued for refusing to testify.
The judge’s order followed the hospitalization of 32-year-old Manning after she attempted suicide at the Virginia detention centre on Wednesday.
Manning had previously indicated that “she will not betray her principles, even at risk of grave harm to herself”, her representatives said in a statement.
“Her actions today evidence the strength of her convictions, as well as the profound harm she continues to suffer as a result of her ‘civil’ confinement.”
Manning was responsible for the largest leak in US history, involving hundreds of thousands of classified documents on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks.
She was arrested in 2010 and sentenced to 35 years in prison but was released in 2017 after receiving a presidential pardon issued by former President Barack Obama just days before he left office.
During her years in prison, Manning attempted suicide twice in 2016 and staged a hunger strike.
In February 2019, she had petitioned for her release, writing in a letter to Trenga: “I have been separated from my loved ones, deprived of sunlight, and could not even attend my mother’s funeral.”
US prosecutors have been investigating WikiLeaks for years and are seeking the extradition of co-founder Julian Assange from the UK.
He is being investigated in the US for violating the Espionage Act.