Chelsea Manning Says She May Be Jailed for Contempt of Court

WASHINGTON — Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who sent archives of secret military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks in 2010, said on Thursday that she had refused to answer questions about her interactions with the antisecrecy organization before a grand jury — and might be sent to jail as soon as Friday.

Ms. Manning had been imprisoned for about seven years before President Barack Obama commuted most of the remainder of her 35-year sentence in 2017, and she was released from a military prison in May of that year. Her defiance of the subpoena means she may be imprisoned again after a judge holds a closed hearing about her legal arguments and whether to hold her in contempt of court.

“The court may find me in contempt and order me to jail,” she said in a statement, adding: “In solidarity with many activists facing the odds, I will stand by my principles. I will exhaust every legal remedy available. My legal team continues to challenge the secrecy of these proceedings, and I am prepared to face the consequences of my refusal.”

Ms. Manning also confirmed that — as widely suspected — prosecutors wanted to ask her about WikiLeaks. Prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have been investigating the organization for years, and inadvertently revealed last year that they had charged its leader, Julian Assange, under seal.

“All of the substantive questions pertained to my disclosures of information to the public in 2010 — answers I provided in extensive testimony, during my court-martial in 2013,” Ms. Manning said.

Prosecutors had bestowed legal immunity on Ms. Manning for her testimony, she said, but she responded to each question by saying she refused to answer because it violated her constitutional rights.

It had not been clear what the charge against Mr. Assange, who has been living for years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid arrest, pertained to: WikiLeaks’ role in publishing leaked, classified documents, or its role in publishing the Democratic emails stolen by Russian government hackers during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The disclosure that prosecutors are newly refocused on Ms. Manning’s early interactions with the organization indicates that the case most likely relates to the publication of classified information — a case that would raise novel First Amendment issues. The Obama administration had weighed charging Mr. Assange in connection with Ms. Manning’s disclosures, but decided against it over fears of chilling investigative journalism.

After Ms. Manning disclosed her subpoena to The New York Times last week, The Daily Beast reported that David House, an activist and member of a support network for Ms. Manning during the 2010-11 era of legal and activist wrangling over WikiLeaks’ publication of her leaks, had been granted immunity and testified last year before the same grand jury about his interactions with the group.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, declined to comment.

Judge Claude M. Hilton, who was appointed to the Federal District Court in that district by President Ronald Reagan in 1985, will decide whether to accept Ms. Manning’s arguments for why she had a right to refuse to answer the questions or to send her to jail. He previously declined her request to quash the subpoena before she knew what she would be asked.