Well work it out, says whistleblower, as tour organiser asks supporters to lobby immigration minister
US whistleblower Chelsea Manning has expressed confidence the Australian government will allow her to enter the country for a speaking tour, despite indications that it is considering barring her.
In her first public comment on the controversy, Manning told Guardian Australia well work it out as the organisers of her tour begin to lobby the government not to follow through on the ban.
Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the US army who served in the Iraq war, spent seven years in a military prison after being convicted of leaking nearly 750,000 classified military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks.
Barack Obama commuted her original 35-year-sentence, and she was released in May 2017.
Manning, an occasional Guardian columnist, is scheduled to give a speech at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday night as part of the Antidote festival, as well as addresses in Brisbane and Melbourne.
The Australian organiser of her speaking tour, Think Inc, has written to supporters asking them to lobby the newly installed immigration minister, David Coleman.
We have just received a notice of intention to consider refusal under s501 of the Migration Act from the Australian government in regards to Chelseas visa, the companys director, Suzi Jamil, wrote to supporters.
We are looking for support from relevant national bodies or individuals, especially politicians who can support Chelseas entry into Australia. We are seeking letters of support to send to the minister for immigration in order for him to reconsider his decision.
Jamil told Guardian Australia organisers were positive about the prospect of convincing the minister to allow Manning in, citing a groundswell of support for her and arguing she is coming to speak on privacy and transgender issues and will abide by Australias laws.
Jamil said Manning had received letters of support from the Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, the Human Rights Law Centre, Digital Rights Watch, the Australian Privacy Foundation and the Castan Centre for Human Rights.
The prime minister, Scott Morrison himself a former immigration minister said on Thursday he would discuss it with Coleman but it was actually not my specific responsibility but rather a personal power of the minister.
Section 501 of the Australian Migration Act gives the immigration minister broad and unchallengeable powers to refuse or cancel visas, either on national interest grounds or because they decide applicants or holders have not passed a character test.
The former immigration minister Peter Dutton, who is now home affairs minister, used the provision regularly to cancel the visas of bike gang members, people with criminal records and others.
The rappers Snoop Dogg and Chris Brown, the pickup artist Jeff Allen and the boxer Floyd Mayweather have all been denied visas on character grounds. The Holocaust denier David Irving has been refused a visa various times.
A spokeswoman for the department of home affairs, which oversees immigration, said it would not comment on individual cases, but that all non-citizens entering Australia must meet the character requirements of the Migration Act.
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.
On Thursday the shadow foreign minister, Penny Wong, called on the government to explain why it was considering blocking Manning, who she described as a very high profile figure and controversial.
Wong used the controversy to criticise Duttons decision to exercise discretion to allow several au pairs tourist visas despite evidence they had come to work in Australia. She told Radio National Mannings treatment was inconsistent compared with the ease with which the au pairs were allowed to enter Australia.
Manning is due to speak in New Zealand the weekend after her first Australian address, but the opposition there has also called for her to be blacklisted.
Because of her previous convictions, Manning requires a special direction visa to visit New Zealand, and is subject to additional character provisions in the countrys Immigration Act.
New Zealands opposition immigration spokesman, Michael Woodhouse, said Mannings special direction visa should be refused because of her history of criminal convictions.
This is a convicted felon, sentenced to 35 years in jail, coming in here for money, Woodhouse told Stuff. Theres no rehabilitation, no remorse, the very purpose of her visit to come and talk about her crimes.
Immigration New Zealand said an appropriately delegated INZ staff member will look at the representations in the first instance, confirming they had received an application from Mannings representatives for a visa.