The Australian government is preparing to ban whistleblower and activist Chelsea Manning because she does not meet the country’s “character requirement.”
The former soldier spent seven years in prison, including 11 months in solitary confinement, for leaking a trove of classified military documents to Wikileaks which revealed information about US operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama commuted her sentence shortly before leaving office, and she made a bid for Senate as a Democrat this year.
According to a reported letter addressed to Manning from the Australian Home Affairs Department, Manning applied for a temporary visa on August 8, and the federal government was reviewing her candidacy.
The letter specified that her visa application may be denied under section 501 of the Australian Migration Act, which allows the Minister to deny an applicant if they do not meet the “character requirements.”
“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,” a spokesperson for the Home Affairs Department told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The 35-year-old, who now makes a living through speaking engagements, had planned events at the Sydney Opera House, as well as in Melbourne, Brisbane. She is also slated to speak in two major cities in New Zealand, though several politicians have called her a “felon” and are lobbying for her visa to be canceled.
Think Inc., which has organized the Australian events, has appealed for support to allow Manning to speak.
“We are looking for support from relevant national bodies or individuals, especially politicians who can support Chelsea’s entry into Australia,” Think Inc’s director Suzi Jamil wrote.
Many have called for action to grant Manning a visa.
Richard Di Natale, the leader of the Australian Greens, wrote a letter to government ministers urging them to grant Manning a visa.
“Australians have indicated their strong interest in hearing what Manning has to say — her events in Australia are sold out. To deny her opportunity to speak to our community is unfair and unwarranted.”
Some have called out Australia for allowing other controversial figures, including Canadian far-right internet personality Lauren Southern, and former Breitbart senior editor Milo Yiannopoulos, to speak at major events.
Manning had previously been denied entry to Canada in 2017 because of her criminal record.
In September, Manning was named a visiting fellow at Harvard University, but the university withdrew the title days later after pushback from then-CIA director Mike Pompeo.