Chelsea Manning could be banned from entering Australia and New Zealand

By @chelean on
Chelsea Manning attends the Re:publica conference in Berlin, Germany, May 2, 2018.
Chelsea Manning attends the Re:publica conference in Berlin, Germany, May 2, 2018. Reuters/Axel Schmidt

US whistleblower Chelsea Manning could be banned from entering Australia. The federal government is said to be preparing to refuse her entry into the country ahead of her speaking tour.

The former US army intelligence analyst has a scheduled speaking tour in Australia and New Zealand in September, and it appears she wouldn’t be allowed to set foot in either. Manning is best known for leaking classified military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks.

She received 35 years’ imprisoned for violating the Espionage Act and other charges, but she only spent seven years behind bars from 2010 to 2017 after then-US president Barack Obama commuted her sentence.

Because her sentence was commuted and not pardoned, she still has a standing conviction. She needs special dispensation to be granted a visa in Australia and New Zealand.

According to the ABC, the director of Think Inc, the Australian organiser of her speaking tour, has asked Manning’s supporters to urge new Immigration Minister David Coleman to approve her visa.

“We have just received a Notice of Intention to Consider Refusal under s501 of the Migration Act from the Australian government in regards to Chelsea’s Visa,” Suzi Jamil wrote. “We are looking for support from relevant national bodies or individuals, especially politicians who can support Chelsea’s entry into Australia.

“We are seeking letters of support to send to the Minister for Immigration in order for him to reconsider his decision.”

The minister has the right to deny anyone a visa if they don’t pass “the character test,” according to the said section 501 of the Migration Act. A spokesperson from the Home Affairs Department said that a person can fail the character test if the applicant has a substantial criminal record or where their conduct represents a risk to the community.

In New Zealand, she is subject to character provisions in section 15 of the Immigration Act 2009. National party’s Michael Woodhouse, who is former Immigration minister, wants the government to deny Manning entry to the country because of her history of criminal convictions. If he had received Manning’s application while he was still the Immigration minister, he said he would have denied it.

“This is a convicted felon, sentenced to 35 years in jail, coming in here for money,” he was quoted by Stuff as saying. “She is wanting to be hailed a hero for stealing military secrets and state secrets. She was convicted of very serious crimes.

“The discretion is not there to apply to a person who expresses virtually no remorse for her offending… There’s no rehabilitation, no remorse, the very purpose of her visit to come and talk about her crimes.”

Woodhouse added that New Zealand should also consider their “very good and friendly relationship” with America when considering Manning’s visa application.

Manning said she was banned from entering Canada last year. She was able to secure a Canadian visa in May.

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