The Australian government is considering denying the visa application of whistleblower Chelsea Manning — effectively banning her from the country — according to reports from both the ABC and Fairfax. Manning was due to give several talks in Australia over the coming fortnight, with the first at the Sydney Opera House this Sunday.
The ABC is reporting that Suzi Jamil, the director of Think Inc., the company that organised Manning’s Australian tour, told supporters that they had been issued a Notice of Intention to Consider Refusal from the Department of Home Affairs under section 501 of the Migration Act.
S501 pertains to the refusal of a visa on “character grounds“, and includes provisions for things like if applicant holds a “substantial” criminal record; if they are considered (with or without a conviction) to have been involved in war crimes or “a crime that is otherwise of serious international concern“; if they are considered likely to vilify a section of the Australian community; or if they are likely to cause “discord” in a section of the Australian community, among other things.
According to the letter sent to Manning, she was specifically flagged for her criminal record:
— Dan Conifer (@DanConifer) August 29, 2018
Jamil asked supporters for help “from relevant national bodies or individuals, especially politicians who can support Chelsea’s entry into Australia” in the hopes of getting Australia’s immigration minister to reconsider the decision (that would be David Coleman, who was sworn in today).
Manning was arrested in 2010 and charged with 22 offences including “aiding the enemy” (which can carry a death sentence) for leaking classified US government documents to WikiLeaks. The leaks included over 250,000 diplomatic cables and nearly 400,000 US Army field reports, in addition to footage of US air strikes with significant civilian casualties.
Last year, Manning was denied a Canadian visa on the grounds that the offence she was convicted of in the US was comparable to that of the act of treason, as defined by the Canadian Criminal Code.
In 2017, then-president Barack Obama commuted nearly the entirety of the remainder Manning’s sentence, but did not pardon her.