"Undermining democracy": Peter Greste urges the minister to let Chelsea Manning enter

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Chelsea Manning, the controversial whistleblower who leaked nearly 750,000 classified documents from the US UU A Wikileaks, you could cancel your Australian visa before an upcoming conference tour.

She plans to speak at the Sydney Opera House over the weekend and will launch a tour of Australia.

But the organizer of the event, Think Inc, says he received a letter from the Australian government that warns that his visa may be rejected under Section 501 of the Migration Law.

The section gives the Minister of Internal Affairs, Peter Dutton, and the new immigration minister, David Coleman, the power to cancel his visa for "reasons of character."

But Mr. Dutton's office and the department told SBS News they would not comment on individual cases.

"A person can suspend the character test for several reasons, including but not limited to a non-citizen having a substantial criminal record or where his conduct poses a risk to the Australian community," the department wrote in a statement.

Peter Greste, the well-known Australian journalist who spent more than a year imprisoned in Egypt for his reports, planned to interview Ms. Manning over the weekend.

Greste told SBS News he was "incredibly disappointed" to know that the refusal of a visa was at stake, but he said he was still waiting for a last-minute approval.

"It can not be denied that Chelsea was responsible for a rather extraordinary leak of classified information and has been condemned for that," Greste said.

"But the first question should be if she represents a threat to Australia, and the answer to that will surely be no."

He said there was no risk that Ms. Manning would stay on her visa or leak Australian state secrets.

"Unless there is a clear and demonstrable risk to Australia, we should do everything we can to get her in and listen to what she has to say, I think less than that is undermining democracy," he said.

The director of Think Inc, Suzi Jamil, wrote to his followers informing them about the possible refusal.

"We have just received a Notice of Intent to Consider Denial under Article 501 of the Australian Government Migration Act with respect to the Chelsea Visa," he wrote.

The prior conviction of Ms. Manning in the United States could threaten her visas for both Australia and New Zealand.

His 35-year sentence was commuted, not forgiven, by former President Barack Obama. Therefore, she still has a permanent conviction and will have to apply for a special waiver to obtain a visa to visit both countries.

Section 501 of the Migration Law grants the minister the power to reject visas for "reasons of character". Power was previously used to prohibit speakers defending theories against vaccination or violence against women.

Labor leader Penny Wong said that "it is up to the government to explain why they are doing this."

Sen. Wong told ABC Radio that the possible refusal "seems quite inconsistent," following this week's revelations about how Internal Affairs Minister Peter Dutton intervened to prevent an au pair from being deported.

Chelsea Manning, will run for the United States Senate despite his conviction for leaking classified material. (AAP)


Think Inc has asked its supporters to put pressure on the immigration minister.

"We are looking for support from national agencies or relevant people, especially politicians who can support Chelsea's entry into Australia," said Ms. Jamil.

"We are looking for letters of support to send to the Minister of Immigration to reconsider his decision."

It occurs when opposition politicians in New Zealand ask that Manning be banned from entering that country.

The center-right National Party on Tuesday asked the government to reject that request, saying that Ms. Manning was a "delinquent."

"Chelsea Manning used a position of responsibility and authority to steal hundreds of thousands of documents that may well have put American lives at risk," immigration spokesman and former minister Michael Woodhouse told Radio New Zealand.

"This is not a matter of freedom of expression (Ms. Manning) is free to say what she wants, but she does not have the freedom to travel anywhere, other countries have already denied her entry."

Archive: New Zealand Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse on the left smiles as he interacts with refugee students during his visit to the UNHCR Tzu Chi Center

Archive: New Zealand Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, left, smiles as he interacts with refugee students during his visit to the UNHCR Tzu Chi Center in 2017


It was not appropriate for Ms. Manning to earn money talking about her crimes, Woodhouse said.

But the pressure group, Free Speech Coalition, quickly condemned the calls to Ms. Manning.

"There are other examples of previously convicted criminals who were allowed into New Zealand, Nelson Mandela was allowed in 1995," said spokesman Chris Trotter.

"The issue of the war behavior of our allies is a matter of great public importance."

The Green Party has also come in defense of Ms. Manning.

File photo of Sunday, September 17, 2017 by Chelsea Manning

Stock Image of Chelsea Manning.


The New Zealand immigration department says it received a request, which will now be examined by senior officials in the first instance, with the right to appeal to the minister in charge.

The office of the associate minister of Immigration, Kris Faafoi, said he would not comment on individual cases.

with AAP