American whistleblower Chelsea Manning says Central Intelligence Agency Director Mike Pompeo cannot "intimidate" her from speaking out on political issues.
The transgender activist made the comments in an interview with The Daily Beast on Tuesday, accusing the intelligence community of attempts to "stifle dissent” after she was banned from lecturing at Harvard University.
“What’s important here is that the Central Intelligence Agency and associated people in the intelligence community, they think they can stifle dissent, all forms of dissent, all across America and use academic institutions as a battleground,” Manning said. “I’m not going to be afraid and I’m not going to be intimidated.”
Last month, Pompeo canceled a talk at the university and CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell resigned from his post as a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School over the invitation.
"Im not ashamed of being disinvited," Manning said at the time. "I view that just as much of an honored distinction as the fellowship itself."
The university apologized both to Manning and her critics over the controversy.
"We are withdrawing the invitation to her to serve as a Visiting Fellow — and the perceived honor that it implies to some people — while maintaining the invitation for her to spend a day at the Kennedy School and speak in the Forum," Douglas Elmendorf, dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, said last month. "I apologize to her and to the many concerned people from whom I have heard today for not recognizing upfront the full implications of our original invitation."
Late on Monday when the lecture was due, Manning instead talked at the similarly prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) about surveillance, tech, and social repression.
The most boring dystopian novel
The former US Army soldier, formerly named Bradley Manning, was released from prison in mid-May after serving seven years for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks.
The 29-year-old transgender whistleblower was convicted in 2013 for classified documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
She was initially sentenced to 35 years behind bars for espionage, by far the longest punishment ever imposed in the United States for a leak conviction.
Just days before leaving office, former US President Barack Obama commuted her prison sentence, reducing it from 35 years to seven years.
Manning censured the prevalence of domestic surveillance and the militarization of policing, which she has observed after her release from jail, saying it is “like I’m walking out into the most boring dystopian novel I can imagine.”
“It feels like American cities, certain parts of them, are occupied by an American force, the police department,” she said at the interview.