It has been five years since US whistleblower Chelsea Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison after being found guilty of disclosing around 750,000 classified or sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.
However, despite having her sentence commuted by former president Barack Obama last year, the Aussie Federal Government is allegedly planning to stop the former US marine from entering the country, according to the ABC.
The public service broadcaster obtained an email, claimed to have been sent to Manning, which states that the Department of Home Affairs is “considering refusal” of the 30-year-old’s visa application under section 501(1) of the Migration Act 1958.
The activist, formerly known as Bradley Manning, is scheduled to speak at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday, as part of a speaking tour across Australia and New Zealand, with similar talks planned for Brisbane and Melbourne.
The email states that the former soldier-turned-whistleblower – who spent seven years behind bars, including 11 months in solitary confinement for her part in the biggest breach of classified data in American history – does “not pass the character test” in relation to her criminal history.
Anyone wishing to enter Australia must pass a good character test. Guidelines set out by the Department of Home Affairs state that anyone with a “substantial criminal record” will not be granted entry, as well as those who have been convicted of child sex offences, been part of an organised crime gang or anyone who has escaped from an immigration detention centre, for example.
"What matters is what the truth is, and what matters for the public." @Snowden's advice for whistleblowers like himself and @xychelsea. Starting this Sunday, Chelsea will give her version in Aus & NZ. Grab your tix at https://t.co/lgRXmxiaf2 pic.twitter.com/jJMYXQTKlS
— Think Inc. (@thinkincAU) August 29, 2018
Manning is also scheduled to perform her show ‘An Evening With Chelsea Manning’ in the NZ cities of Auckland and Wellington in September, with Radio New Zealand reporting that her visa application to enter the country is likely to be granted. However the country’s centre-right National Party is lobbying for her visa to be cancelled.
The Australian organiser of her speaking tour, Think Inc, has written to supporters asking them to lobby the newly installed Immigration Minister David Coleman.
Director of Think Inc. Suzi Jamil cited the commutation of her sentence by former president Obama in 2017 as evidence “she is far from a risk”, reports the ABC.
Manning’s hefty jail term was commuted by Obama in January 2017, in one of his final acts as President of the United States. At the time he said: “I feel very comfortable that justice has been served. Let’s be clear: Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence.”