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Australia

Australia to bar WikiLeaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning from entering country during speaking tour

Tour organiser lobbying Immigration Minister David Coleman to allow her entry but expects Manning’s visa application to be denied because of her criminal record

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 12:27pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 August, 2018, 12:27pm

Convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning will not be allowed to enter Australia for a speaking tour scheduled to start on Sunday, her tour organiser said on Thursday.

Think Inc said it had 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.

“Which after a little bit of research and speaking to our legal counsel, we understand is potentially an imminent refusal of her visa,” Think Inc director Suzi Jamil said.

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Manning was an intelligence analyst for the US 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 US 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 be a risk to the community.

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

Labour foreign affairs spokeswoman 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.

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Lawyer Greg Barns, who has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said people with criminal records have been allowed into Australia in the past.

He said no one would seriously suggest Manning was a risk to the Australian community.

New Zealand immigration expects to make a decision by Friday on whether to grant her a “special direction” visa.

She doesn’t qualify for entry otherwise because she has a criminal conviction within the past 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 can have it reviewed by the immigration minister.