Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: ‘Chelsea Manning is being tortured in solitary confinement’

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Chelsea Manning

US congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, has called for the release of transgender whistleblower Chelsea Manning from her purported solitary confinement.

The lawmaker tweeted on Tuesday (April 2): “Chelsea Manning has been trapped in solitary confinement for refusing to answer questions before a grand jury. 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.”

Ocasio-Cortez, who became the youngest ever female US congresswoman last year, also shared a video in which she called for renewed protections for whistleblowers.

“Chelsea is being tortured for whistleblowing.”

—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

“We have a unique responsibility to protect those who have the courage to come out and say that something is wrong, regardless of the administration,” she said in the clip.

Chelsea Manning being held in ‘solitary confinement’, says AOC

Manning was imprisoned on March 8 after refusing to testify to a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. Her supporters allege that she is being held in isolation for up to 22 hours a day.

“Chelsea can’t be out of her cell while any other prisoners are out, so she cannot talk to other people, or visit the law library, and has no access to books or reading material,” the Chelsea Resists group said in a statement.

“She has not been outside for 16 days. She is permitted to make phone calls and move about outside her cell between 1 and 3am.”

Chelsea Manning smiling

Chelsea Manning during a visit to London (Jack Taylor/Getty)

Dana Lawhorne, the sheriff of the Alexandria, Virginia, prison Manning is being held says that the claims are “not accurate or fair.”

“Our facility does not have ‘solitary confinement’ and 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 in a statement.

Chelsea Manning files for release

On Tuesday, Manning’s legal team filed a motion for her release from the Alexandria jail.

“Ms Manning is not a flight risk,” her lawyers wrote. “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.”

Manning was called to testify in front of a grand jury on March 3, but refused to do so citing the “secrecy” of the process, which she says “tends to favour the government.”

The former soldier served seven years of a 35-year sentence after disclosing more than 700,000 confidential files to WikiLeaks, before being released by then-President Barack Obama in 2017.

One year after her release Manning announced that she had undergone gender confirmation surgery, having been denied a medical transition while behind bars.