The Government is planning to ban Chelsea Manning, a US whistleblower, from visiting Australia to give a speaking tour, citing character issues.
The former US army soldier spent 7 years in US federal prison, with 11 months in solitary confinement, for releasing almost 750, 000 documents that revealed illegal spying and other activities performed by the US Government.
When she leaked the documents, Ms Manning was serving as an intelligence analyst in Iraq.
She has plans to give an address at the Opera House in Sydney before traveling to Brisbane and Melbourne for similar events.
Think Inc, the local organisation planning Chelsea’s speaking tour, has asked supporters to lobby David Coleman, the newly appointed Minister for Immigration.
In their statement to supporters, Think Inc describes receiving an “Intention to Consider Refusal” which cited section 501 of the Migration Act.
The particular section of the Act refers to ‘character requirements’ which effectively gives the Immigration Minister carte blanche to reject a visa at their discretion.
The Home Affairs Departments has so far refused to comment on the specific case.
However, a spokesperson implied that “a substantial criminal record” and the potential for a “risk to the Australian community” were the reasons a visa applicant “might” fail a character test.
Supporters of the decision to ban Ms Manning’s entry cite that she put Australian soldiers in harm’s way by whistleblowing secretive military documents.
Ms Manning was sentenced to 35 years’ incarceration in 2010 for leaking classified data and being convicted with espionage. It was the biggest data breach in the US Government’s history and prosecutors argued that Ms Manning’s actions exposed military intelligence to terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda.
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