Disclosing Subpoena for Testimony, Chelsea Manning Vows to Fight

WASHINGTON — Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst convicted in 2013 of leaking archives of secret military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks, revealed in an interview that she had been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury — and vowed to fight it.

The subpoena does not say what prosecutors intend to ask her about. But it was issued in the Eastern District of Virginia and comes after prosecutors inadvertently disclosed in November that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, has been charged under seal in that district.

Ms. Manning, who provided a copy of the subpoena to The New York Times, said that her legal team would file a motion on Friday to quash it, arguing that it would violate her constitutional rights to force her to appear. She declined to say whether she would cooperate if that failed.

“Given what is going on, I am opposing this,” she said. “I want to be very forthright I have been subpoenaed. I don’t know the parameters of the subpoena apart from that I am expected to appear. I don’t know what I’m going to be asked.”

Ms. Manning said she had retained Moira Meltzer-Cohen, a New York attorney, to represent her in fighting the subpoena. Her website lists grand-jury representation as a specialty, saying: “We will work to quash the subpoena on all available grounds, assist you in identifying lawful ways to resist the subpoena, and work to prevent a contempt finding in the event that you refuse to testify.”

Mr. Assange has been living for years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London to avoid arrest. It has not been clear what the sealed charge or charges relate to, but prosecuting him for publishing government secrets would raise novel issues about the limits of First Amendment press freedoms.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the office of the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, declined to comment. But there were multiple reasons to believe that the subpoena is related to the investigation of Mr. Assange.

Among them, the subpoena was requested by Gordon D. Kromberg, an assistant United States attorney in the Eastern District. After an inadvertent court filing revealed that Mr. Assange has been charged under seal, it was Mr. Kromberg who successfully argued before a judge that any such charges remain a secret and should not be unsealed.

Moreover, Ms. Manning said, Mr. Kromberg has told her lawyers in vague terms that prosecutors wanted to talk to her about her past statements. During her court-martial, Ms. Manning delivered a lengthy statement about how she came to copy archives of secret documents and send them to WikiLeaks, including her online interactions with someone who was likely Mr. Assange.

“It’s disappointing but not surprising that the government is continuing to pursue criminal charges against Julian Assange, apparently for his role in uncovering and providing the public truthful information about matters of great public interest,” said Barry Pollack, a lawyer for Mr. Assange.

In recent years, Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks have become notorious for their role in disseminating Democratic emails stolen by Russian hackers as part of the Russian government’s covert efforts to damage the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, and help Donald J. Trump win.

The antisecrecy group, however, had previously vaulted to fame by publishing archives of classified documents — including logs of significant events in the Afghanistan and Iraq wars and diplomatic cables — that revealed many things about what was secretly happening in the world. All of those initial files, it eventually emerged, had been provided by Ms. Manning.

In 2017, WikiLeaks published documents about C.I.A. hacking tools. A software engineer, Joshua A. Schulte, has been charged with that leak.

After Ms. Manning’s leaks, the Obama administration had considered trying to indict Mr. Assange. But while it has become common to prosecute officials under the Espionage Act for leaking files, using it against someone who merely received and published leaked files raised fears about chilling investigative reporting.

The Obama legal team eventually shelved the idea. But the Trump legal team moved forward with developing a sealed criminal complaint against Mr. Assange — for something — last summer, providing a potential basis to seek his extradition were he to emerge from the embassy.

The subpoena to Ms. Manning, dated Jan. 22, says that she was ordered to appear on Feb. 5 before a grand jury at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va. But she said that date got pushed back, and she is now supposed to testify on March 5.

During her court-martial, Ms. Manning took responsibility for her actions and said that Mr. Assange had not directed them.

“No one associated with W.L.O.” — an abbreviation she used to refer to the WikiLeaks organization — “pressured me into sending any more information,” she said at the time. “I take full responsibility.”

Because that account would seemingly be helpful to the defense, she said she wondered if prosecutors wanted to try to get her to back away from it. She would not do so, she insisted, while criticizing the secrecy that surrounds grand jury proceedings.

“I am not going to contribute to a process that I feel is dangerous and could potentially place me in a position where I am forced to backtrack on the truth,” she said.