Ocasio-Cortez: Chelsea Manning Is ‘Being Tortured for Whistleblowing’

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez / Getty

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.) on Tuesday came to the defense of Chelsea Manning, the former Army intelligence analyst who was convicted of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified U.S. documents, saying that she is being "tortured for whistleblowing."

An Alexandria federal judge jailed Manning three weeks ago for not cooperating with a grand jury investigation of WikiLeaks, the website with which she shared classified information in 2010. With public support from Ocasio-Cortez, Manning is now requesting that she be released from jail and not be required to testify.

Public Citizen, a progressive consumer advocacy group, praised Ocasio-Cortez's recent comments supporting government whistleblowers on Twitter, quoting her as saying, "We have a unique responsibility to protect those who have the courage to come out and say when something is wrong."

"@AOC is spot on," the group added. "All-too-often, whistleblowers are marginalized, penalized, and even fired after drawing attention to corporate cronyism and other shady practices."

Ocasio-Cortez quote-tweeted Public Citizen's tweet and said her defense of Manning was "related" to her support for other whistleblowers.

"Chelsea Manning has been trapped in solitary confinement for refusing to answer questions before a Grand Jury. Solitary confinement is torture," Ocasio-Cortez wrote. "Chelsea is being tortured for whistleblowing, she should be released on bail, and we should ban extended solitary in the US."

Manning's lawyers said that no amount of jail time will force her to cooperate with the investigation, adding that she is "not a flight risk."

"She believes in taking a principled stand for what she believes in, and also in taking accountability for her actions. No bond would be necessary to secure her reappearance in court," the lawyers wrote. "While she will certainly exhaust her legal avenues in order to legally justify her decision not to cooperate, her continued noncooperation is a foregone conclusion, regardless of the legal outcomes."

Manning, a transgender woman, was released from a U.S. military prison in May 2017 after then-President Barack Obama commuted her sentence seven years into a 35-year sentence.