Australia has barred Chelsea Manning, convicted of aiding the enemy by leaking sensitive U.S. military documents, from entering the country for a speaking tour, her tour organizer announced on Thursday.
Think Inc., the group organizing the tour, said it had received a notice of intention from the Australian government to deny Manning’s entry, “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 told the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
The group has responded to the decision by calling on Manning’s supporters to lobby the government into reversing the decision. Australia’s new Prime Minister Scott Morrison has indicated the decision will be left at the discretion of his newly appointed immigration minister David Coleman.
Private Bradley Manning, who worked as an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army before leaking classified military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks, was jailed for 35 years on charges of aiding the enemy.
Manning came out as transgender during that sentence and underwent sexual reassignment surgery after going on a hunger strike. President Barack Obama granted Manning clemency shortly before he left office in January 2017. Manning served seven years, or a fifth, of the sentence issued.
Amnesty International has supported Manning’s appeal. National director Claire Mallinson claimed that Australia refusing entry would “send a chilling message that freedom of speech is not valued by our government.”
“By refusing her entry, the Australian government would send a chilling message that freedom of speech is not valued by our government." https://t.co/MV6JBYt8NH
— AmnestyInternational (@amnesty) August 30, 2018
The government of New Zealand is still considering whether to grant Manning a “special direction” visa, which would bypass laws preventing entry due to a criminal conviction within the past ten years. The country’s right-wing National Party opposition has urged the government not to grant the request, although Manning could still appeal the decision should it be rejected.
The 35-year-old was scheduled to speak in cities across Australia and New Zealand, including Melbourne, Auckland, and Wellington, and Brisbane, although it now appears the entire tour may be canceled.
Manning, now a far-left transgender activist, has adopted a number of controversial political positions including support for the abolition of prisons, police, borders, and tradition, and recently ran an unsuccessful campaign for the U.S. Senate in Maryland. In May, Manning threatened to commit suicide by posting a suicide note and a picture of a rooftop ledge.