U.S. whistleblower Chelsea Manning to be barred from entering Australia

Convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning won’t be allowed to enter Australia for a speaking tour scheduled to start this weekend, her event organizer says.

Think Inc. said that on Wednesday, it received a notice of intention from the government to deny Manning entry. The group is calling on her supporters to lobby new Immigration Minister David Coleman to allow her into Australia. While she can appeal, past precedent suggests the decision has already been made.

Think Inc. said it had given the government more than 10 letters of support from individuals and organizations in supoort of Manning’s entry to Australia.

“Ms. Manning offers formidable ideas and an insightful perspective which we are hoping to bring to the forefront of Australian dialogue,” Think Inc. Director Suzi Jamil said in a statement.

By refusing her entry, the Australian government would send a chilling message that freedom of speech is not valued by our government.– Claire Mallinson, Amnesty International

Manning was an intelligence analyst for the U.S. army when she leaked military and diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy website WikiLeaks. She served seven years of a 35-year sentence before then President Barack Obama granted her clemency in 2017.

The transgender activist, who recently lost a long-shot bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland, is scheduled to speak at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday, and has subsequent events in Australia and New Zealand.

The Department of Home Affairs said while it does not comment on individual cases, all non-citizens entering Australia must meet character requirements set out in the Migration Act. The reasons a person might fail the character test include a criminal record or a determination they might a risk to the community, according to the department.

Call for transparency

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision was up to Coleman, who was sworn in as immigration minister on Tuesday.

A foreign affairs spokesperson for the opposition Labor Party, Penny Wong, said the government should be transparent about the reason if Manning is denied entry.

Amnesty International accused the government of trying to silence Manning.

“By refusing her entry, the Australian government would send a chilling message that freedom of speech is not valued by our government,” Amnesty International national director Claire Mallinson said in a statement.

Lawyer Greg Barns, who has represented WikiKeaks founder Julian Assange, said people with criminal records have been allowed into Australia. He said no one would seriously suggest Manning was a risk to the Australian community.

Immigration officials in New Zealand expect to make a decision by Friday on whether to grant her a “special direction” visa. Manning doesn’t qualify for entry otherwise because she has a criminal conviction within the last 10 years for which she had a sentence exceeding one year, according to the country’s visa rules.

New Zealand’s centre-right National Party opposition is urging the government to decline her visa request. If the decision goes against Manning, she could have it reviewed by the immigration minister.

Manning is due to speak in the Australian cities of Melbourne on Sept. 7 and Brisbane on Sept. 11, and in the New Zealand cities of Auckland on Sept. 8 and Wellington the next day.

CBC | World News

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