Manning had been detained in the Alexandria Detention Center for 11 months in civil contempt for her refusal to testify. The judge’s order comes a day after the former Army private attempted suicide in jail. Authorities said they stepped in before serious harm occurred.
In 2010, while serving as an Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning shared with WikiLeaks thousands of classified State and Defense Department cables. She was sentenced to 35 years in a military prison but was released by President Barack Obama after seven years.
Manning is still liable for $256,000 in fines levied by the judge for her refusal to testify.
Assange is now facing charges in Alexandria under the Espionage Act. Prosecutors contend that by soliciting the information from Manning and helping her crack a password, he went beyond the role of a journalist or publisher in disseminating the classified information.
Assange is fighting extradition from the United Kingdom to Alexandria, arguing the case against him is politically motivated.
Hacker Jeremy Hammond, who was also being held in civil contempt for refusing to testify before the WikiLeaks grand jury, was also ordered released by Trenga after five months of civil contempt. But he is still serving a 10-year prison sentence for cyberattacks on various government agencies and businesses.
Trenga’s order rendered moot the arguments by Hammond and Manning that they could never be coerced into testifying. In Alexandria, grand jurors generally serve six to 18 months. The judge did not explain his reasons for ending this grand jury now beyond saying its “business” has “concluded.”
A new grand jury could be convened to investigate WikiLeaks, but that process may be complicated by containment measures related to the spread of coronavirus.
Prosecutors were still attempting to obtain information from both Hammond and Manning as recently as this week. Manning was fighting an appearance before the grand jury Tuesday, and in a podcast interview, Hammond said he was doing so as well.
Hammond said he was asked by prosecutors whether Assange had ever asked him to hack any websites, given him a list of targets, or agreed to publish material he provided. He said he did not answer any questions.
“What I did, I did on my own and chose to do it,” Hammond said on the podcast.
Manning, likewise, has said that she has nothing to offer investigators and opposes grand juries on principle as lacking transparency and accountability. In a statement at her military trial, she said that “the decisions that I made to send documents and information” to WikiLeaks “were my own.”