I am not a traitor, says whistleblower Chelsea Manning
Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning has refuted claims she is an "American traitor" insisting she did what she thought was right by leaking thousands of classified documents.
Manning, who was known as Bradley Manning when she was convicted in 2013 of passing a trove of documents to WikiLeaks, was speaking at an annual conference of "creative thinkers" in Massachusetts.
It was one of Manning's first public appearances since being released from a military prison in May after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by President Barack Obama in his final days in office..
"I believe I did the best I could in my circumstances to make an ethical decision," the 29-year-old transgender woman told the crowd when asked by the moderator if she was a traitor.
Tom Scott, who co-founded The Nantucket Project with Kate Brosnan, said they invited Manning for "clarity of understanding".
"My brother and father are Marines. They would respectfully challenge some of her decisions," he said.
"Barack Obama commuted her sentence. My instinct is that he's a good and trustful man. How do those two things mix? Seeing her in person offers, perhaps, the best way to decipher that."
Scott said some of the 600 audience members were upset that Manning was invited, but he did not consider retracting the invitation.
Harvard University reversed its decision to name Manning a visiting fellow on Friday, a day after CIA Director Mike Pompeo scrapped a planned appearance over the title for Manning.
Pompeo called Manning an "American traitor".
Manning said Harvard's decision signalled to her that it was not possible to engage in actual political discourse in academic institutions.
"I'm not ashamed of being disinvited," she said. "I view that just as much of an honoured distinction as the fellowship itself."