Tuesday May 26th, 2020 8:54AM

US leaker Chelsea Manning to be barred from Australia

By The Associated Press
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CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Convicted classified document leaker Chelsea Manning will not be allowed to enter Australia for a speaking tour scheduled to start Sunday, her event organizer said on Thursday.

Think Inc. said it had received on Wednesday a notice of intention from the government to deny Manning entry. 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 from individuals and organizations who support Manning's entry to Australia.

"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 in a statement.

Manning was an intelligence analyst for the U.S. Army when she leaked military and diplomatic documents 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.

The transgender activist who recently lost a long-shot bid for a U.S. Senate seat in Maryland is scheduled to speak at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday and has subsequent events in Australia and New Zealand.

The Department of Home Affairs said while it does not comment on individual cases, all non-citizens entering Australia must meet character requirements set out in the Migration Act. The reasons a person might fail the character test include a criminal record or a determination they might a risk to the community, according to the department.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the decision was for Coleman, who was sworn in as immigration minister on Tuesday.

A foreign affairs spokeswoman for the opposition Labor party, Penny Wong, said the government should be transparent about the reason if Manning is denied entry.

Amnesty International accused the government of trying to silence Manning. "By refusing her entry, the Australian government would send a chilling message that freedom of speech is not valued by our government," Amnesty International national director Claire Mallinson said in a statement.

Lawyer Greg Barns, who has represented Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, said people with criminal records have been allowed into Australia in the past. He said no one would seriously suggest Manning was a risk to the Australian community.

Immigration in New Zealand expects to make a decision by Friday on whether to grant her a "special direction" visa. She doesn't qualify for entry otherwise because she has a criminal conviction within the last 10 years for which she had a sentence exceeding 1 year, according to the country's visa rules.

New Zealand's center-right National Party opposition is urging the government to decline her visa request. If the decision goes against Manning, she can have it reviewed by the immigration minister.

She is due to speak in the Australian city of Melbourne on Sept. 7, the New Zealand city of Auckland on Sept. 8, the New Zealand capital Wellington on Sept. 9 and the Australian city of Brisbane on Sept. 11.

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