Chelsea Manning could be banned from Australia
CONVICTED United States whistleblower Chelsea Manning may have her visa application denied by the Australian government just days before her speaking tour is due to start.
Ms Manning, a former US army intelligence analyst best-known as a leaker of classified military and diplomatic documents, was scheduled to start her Australian speaking tour in Sydney on September 2.
The Australian government is reportedly considering refusing entry to Ms Manning - who was released from military prison in 2017 - under s501 of the Migration Act.
The section of the act gives the department, and its minister Peter Dutton, discretionary powers to refuse visas if they deem someone is not of "good character".
"Entering or remaining in Australia is a privilege, and it is expected that non-citizens are, and have been, law-abiding. Visa holders must also continue to satisfy the character requirement," a fact sheet for Section 501 of the Migration Act reads.
In an email obtained by the ABC, the department referred to Ms Manning's "substantial criminal record" for its intention to refuse her visa.
Ms Manning spent seven years in prison for leaking classified documents but her 35-year sentence was eventually commuted by former US President Barack Obama.
In a statement, the Department of Home Affairs said it does not comment on individual cases.
Lawyers for Ms Manning are expected to appeal to the department tomorrow.
The tour organiser Think Inc. is also expected to comment further depending on the department's decision.
AUSTRALIA TO FOLLOW NEW ZEALAND
Opposition politicians have also called for Ms Manning to be banned from entering New Zealand.
Because her 35-year sentence was commuted, not pardoned, by former president Barack Obama, she still has a standing conviction and will have to request special dispensation to be granted a visa to visit New Zealand.
The centre-right National Party yesterday called for the government to decline that request, saying Ms Manning was a "felon".
"Chelsea Manning used a position of responsibility and authority to steal hundreds of thousands of documents that may well have put American lives at risk," party immigration spokesman and former minister Michael Woodhouse told Radio New Zealand.
"This is not a question of free speech. [Ms Manning] is free absolutely to say whatever she wants but she's not free to travel wherever she wants. Other countries have already denied her entry."
It was inappropriate for Ms Manning to make money by talking about her crimes, Mr Woodhouse said.
But lobby group the Free Speech Coalition swiftly condemned the calls to bar Ms Manning.
"There are other examples of previously convicted criminals that have been allowed entry into New Zealand. Nelson Mandela was allowed entrance in 1995," spokesman Chris Trotter said.
"The subject of our allies' wartime conduct is a matter of great public importance."
The Green Party has also come to Ms Manning's defence.
New Zealand's immigration department says it's received an application, which will now be looked at by senior officials in the first instance, with a right to appeal to the minister in charge.
Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi's office said he would not comment on individual cases.