The federal government is reportedly preparing to ban US whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning from entering Australia just days before she begins a speaking tour.
Manning was to give a speech at the Sydney Opera House this Sunday (September 2), before speaking dates in Melbourne, Brisbane and two in New Zealand.
But organisers Think Inc have claimed to have received letters from the Australian government warning Manning’s visa may be refused.
“We have just received a Notice of Intention to Consider Refusal under s501 of the Migration Act from the Australian government in regards to Chelsea’s Visa,” the company’s director Suzi Jamil said.
“We are seeking letters of support to send to the Minister for Immigration in order for him to reconsider his decision.”
The former army intelligence analyst leaked hundreds of thousands of sensitive US military documents to website WikiLeaks, in the country’s biggest ever breach of classified material, and was convicted in 2013 of espionage.
After spending seven years in a military prison, Manning’s 35-year sentence was commuted – but not pardoned – by former US President Barack Obama in January last year and she was freed in May.
Section 501 of Australia’s Migration Act states Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton “may refuse to grant a visa to a person if the person does not satisfy the Minister that the person passes the character test.”
A spokesperson for the Home Affairs Department told ABC News it couldn’t comment on the case but all non-citizens must meet certain character requirements before being granted entry to Australia.
“A person can fail the character test for a number of reasons, including but not limited to where a non-citizen has a substantial criminal record or where their conduct represents a risk to the Australian community,” the spokesperson said.
Manning has also faced calls from opposition politicians in New Zealand to be denied a visa on a similar basis, but Wikileaks lawyer Greg Barns told the ABC that Manning presented no risk to the Australian public.
During her seven years in military prison, Manning transitioned from male to female but was denied hormone therapy and she attempted suicide.
Manning said ahead of her release last year that while in prison, she sought comfort in letters she received from transgender people, veterans and politicians.
“My spirits were lifted in dark times, reading of their support, sharing in their triumphs, and helping them through challenges of their own,” she said.
“I hope to take the lessons that I have learned, the love that I have been given, and the hope that I have to work toward making life better for others.”
If you need someone to talk to, help is available from QLife on 1800 184 527, online at QLife.org.au or Lifeline on 13 11 14.