Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) is calling for the release of former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, the whistleblower responsible for leaking thousands of classified diplomatic cables in one of the biggest document dumps in U.S. history.
“Chelsea Manning has been trapped in solitary confinement for refusing to answer questions before a Grand Jury,” the congresswoman tweeted Tuesday. “Solitary confinement is torture. Chelsea is being tortured for whistleblowing, she should be released on bail, and we should ban extended solitary in the US.”
Manning was jailed last month for contempt of court after refusing to comply with a subpoena for her testimony about documents she gave to the anti-secrecy organization WikiLeaks in 2010. These included items concerning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, such as a video of a 2007 American airstrike that killed civilians and two Reuters reporters in Baghdad.
Manning support group Chelsea Resists! said on March 23 that Manning had spent 16 days and counting in solitary confinement for 22 hours per day at the William G. Truesdale Adult Detention Center, unable to speak with other prisoners or access reading material.
Dana Lawhorne, the Alexandria, Virginia, sheriff who oversees the facility, said the allegations of ill treatment were inaccurate and unfair.
“Inmates housed in administrative segregation for safety and security reasons still have access to social visits, books, recreation, and break time outside their cells,” he said, adding that staff members interact with both Manning and her attorneys.
Lawhorne was not immediately available by phone on Tuesday to address Ocasio-Cortez’s statements about Manning’s time in solitary.
The New York congresswoman’s remarks came after she gave a speech praising whistleblowers following news that Trump administration official Tricia Newbold had raised grave concerns over certain White House security clearances and questioned whether they put national security at risk.
Ocasio-Cortez called on her fellow committee members “to protect those that have the courage to come out and say when something is wrong regardless of the administration.”