From daily The Morning Star in Britain:
Australian opposition questions government’s decision to bar Chelsea Manning
Labor Party foreign affairs spokeswoman calls for transparency into decision to block the US whistleblower
OPPOSITION Labor Party foreign affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong questioned the Australian government’s decision today to bar entry to whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
The convicted US whistleblower had been due to begin a speaking tour at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday, her event organiser Think Inc said today.
It had received a notice of intention from the government yesterday and 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.
Think Inc said it had given the government more than 10 letters of support for Ms Manning from individuals and organisations.
“Ms Manning offers formidable ideas and an insightful perspective which we are hoping to bring to the forefront of Australian dialogue”, Think Inc director Suzi Jamil said.
Ms Manning was an intelligence analyst for the US army when she leaked military and diplomatic documents [on war crimes in Iraq] 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.
Amnesty International national director Claire Mallinson accused the government of trying to silence Ms Manning, explaining: “By refusing her entry, the Australian government would send a chilling message that freedom of speech is not valued by our government.”
Lawyer Greg Barns, who has represented WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, said people with criminal records have been allowed into Australia in the past and no-one would seriously suggest Ms Manning was a risk to the Australian community.
The Department of Home Affairs said that, while it does not comment on individual cases, all non-citizens entering Australia must meet character requirements set out in the Migration Act.
Immigration in New Zealand expects to make a decision tomorrow on whether to grant her a “special direction” visa.
Ms Manning had been due to speak in Melbourne on September 7, Auckland on September 8, Wellington on September 9 and then back to Australia’s Brisbane on September 11.
CANBERRA MULLS CHELSEA MANNING VISIT The Australian government is considering whether to refuse entry to whistleblower Chelsea Manning just days ahead of her speaking tour. [HuffPost]