Convicted WikiLeaks leaker Chelsea Manning told the audience in Massachusetts that she is not an “American traitor” and she did what she thought was ethical.
“I believe I did the best I could in my circumstances to make an ethical decision,” Manning told the attendees of the annual Nantucket Project conference in Massachusetts after being asked whether she is a traitor for leaking classified documents, Star and Stripes reported.
The 29-year-old was convicted in 2013 for espionage and sentenced to spend 35 years in jail. President Barack Obama commuted her sentence in his last days as the commander-in-chief.
Manning told Eugene Jarecki, an award-winning documentary director and the event’s moderator, that the U.S. as a “police state” following Harvard University’s decision on Friday to rescind invitation to become a visiting fellow.
“I'm not ashamed of being disinvited,” she said. “I view that just as much of an honored distinction as the fellowship itself.”
She also said her choice to speak publicly and try to “change the tone of the conversation” was a risk, adding that it has not improved and actually “have gotten worse.”
“I'm walking out of prison and I see, literally, a dystopian novel unfolding before my eyes,” she told the audience. “That's how I feel when I walk in the American streets today.”
Manning also said privacy is “dead” in today’s society and encouraged people to “forgive everybody at some point,” adding that she will continue to be in the public eye.
“Everybody keeps telling me, 'Maybe you shouldn't say this. Maybe you shouldn't do this event. Maybe you shouldn't talk. Maybe you shouldn't do this,'" she said. “And I'm just like, OK, the fact that you're telling me I shouldn't do this is the reason why I should. And I think that's what we can all do.”