Australia refuses to give visa to Chelsea Manning
U.S. whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been refused a visa to enter Australia, where she was due to make a series of public appearances, her touring company announced Thursday.
The company, Think Inc., said in a statement it had been notified of the Department of Home Affairs’ decision on Wednesday and would be appealing it.
“Think Inc. believes Ms. Manning is entitled to freedom of expression and political opinion which are foundations of a free and democratic society and fundamental human rights,” the organization’s official statement said.
Her first public engagement was due to be held at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday, her touring company said, before appearances in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Manning was convicted in 2013 of stealing 750,000 pages of sensitive government documents and videos and leaking them to WikiLeaks. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison but had her sentence commuted by then-President Barack Obama in January 2017.
CNN affiliate Sky News Australia reported that Manning was denied the visa due to a “standing criminal conviction.”
Australia’s Ministry of Home Affairs declined to comment to CNN. A spokeswoman said that the ministry “does not comment on individual cases.”
Manning is also due to appear in New Zealand as part of her speaking tour, but politicians from the opposition National Party have called for her to be banned from the country.
Think Inc. director Suzi Jamil said the company would pursue “all legal avenues” to get the decision reversed and has appealed to Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to personally intervene.
“(We) hope they will allow the Australian public to hear about vital issues around data privacy issues, artificial intelligence and transgender rights,” she said.
The company will include more than 10 letters of support from individuals and organizations who support Manning’s entry to Australia.
Australian Greens leader Richard Di Natale released a statement on Wednesday in support of Manning, saying to deny her an opportunity to speak would be “unfair and unwarranted.”
“It is clear Ms. Manning is not a public figure who incites violence or hate. Her actions have always been focused on transparency and accountability,” he said in a letter to Dutton.