Fri, Aug 31, 2018 - Page 6 News List

Manning faces possible Australia ban

‘CHARACTER TEST’:The government said a person could be barred from entering the country for having a substantial criminal record or for conduct deemed a risk to society


US whistle-blower Chelsea Manning, who was jailed for leaking classified information, is facing a ban from Australia, with organizers of a speaking tour yesterday saying that her visa application was likely to be refused.

The former soldier, freed last year after then-US president Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence days before he left office, was scheduled to talk at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday, followed by engagements in Melbourne and Brisbane.

Suzi Jamil of Think Inc, which organized Manning’s tour of Australia and New Zealand, said a “notice of intention to consider refusal” of her visa application was received from the Australian government on Wednesday.

“We are very disappointed to learn that the [Australian] Department of Home Affairs has taken this approach and will be vigorously advocating for her ability to enter Australia,” Jamil told reporters. “Ms Manning has many formidable ideas and an insightful perspective, which we are hoping to bring to the forefront of Australian dialogue.”

Think Inc would “pursue all legal avenues to the minister and hope he will decide to allow the Australian public to hear about vital issues around data privacy, artificial intelligence and transgender rights,” Jamil said.

The government does not comment on individual cases, but said anyone entering the country must meet the character requirements set out in Australia’s Migration Act.

“A person can fail the character test for a number of reasons, including, but not limited to, where a noncitizen has a substantial criminal record or where their conduct represents a risk to the Australian community,” a department spokesperson said.

Manning, who was a US Army intelligence analyst, was detained in 2010 and jailed in 2013 for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The revelations by Manning, who is transgender and was then known as Bradley Manning, exposed covered-up misdeeds and possible crimes by US troops and allies.

Her actions made Manning a hero to anti-war and anti-secrecy activists, but US establishment figures branded her a traitor.

She served seven years in prison, during which she battled for — and won — the right to start hormone treatment.

Manning’s speaking tour has also generated lively debate in New Zealand, where she is booked for events on Saturday and Sunday next week.

She would need special dispensation to enter the country because of her convictions, and the conservative opposition wants her barred, labeling Manning a felon who has shown no remorse and wants to profit by talking about her crimes.

Immigration New Zealand is still considering her visa application.

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