28 Aug 2018

National wants Chelsea Manning banned from NZ

4:35 pm on 28 August 2018

National wants the government to deny ex-US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning entry to New Zealand.

Former US soldier Chelsea Manning speaks during the C2 conference in Montreal, Quebec, on May 24, 2018. / AFP PHOTO / Lars Hagberg

Photo: AFP

Tickets are being sold to two events next month to hear her speak, in Auckland on 8 September and Wellington on 9 September.

The former US Army soldier was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking hundreds of thousands of documents containing classified information about American diplomats and the military. She spent seven years in prison before former US President Barack Obama commuted her sentence and she was released last year.

The conviction means she has to apply for a special direction visa to come to New Zealand.

Associate Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi's office said it hadn't yet received an application.

National Party immigration spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said if it were up to him he would be banning Ms Manning from the country.

"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.

"She was convicted and sentenced to a 35-year prison term and as a consequence has no good reason to be coming to New Zealand."

He said this case bore no comparison to the recent visit of Canadian right wing speakers Lauren Southern and Stephen Molyneux.

"This is not a question of free speech. [Ms Manning] is free absolutely to say whatever she wants but she's not free to travel wherever she wants. Other countries have already denied her entry," he said.

It was highly inappropriate that she should make money from talking about her crimes, Mr Woodhouse said.

Mr Woodhouse said Section 15 of the Immigration Act was very clear and he was surprised there had been no application yet for a special direction visa.

"From experience I know that can take at least two to three weeks, in which case the time is running out for her to even apply and have the process followed - regardless of what the decision is."

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern refused to comment on whether she thought Ms Manning should be allowed in to the country.

"I can't comment on that - that would be a matter for the Minister of Immigration," she said.

Green MP Golriz Ghahraman said she saw no evidence to suggest Ms Manning was a risk to New Zealand because of her whistleblowing, and she should be allowed into the country.

"She was privy to information that was very damning and would expose abuses of power that were in the public interest to be exposed. She chose really bravely to put her body on the line, essentially, and expose those abuses."

She said there was no way she posed a threat to Kiwis because of that decision.

"I feel like if you're a person that feels like abuses of power being exposed is a threat to you, then you might be part of the problem really."

Ms Ghahraman said she was one of those who over the past decade had been involved in instances of whistleblowing that exposed massive global tax evasion, abuses by militaries and major abuses by governments.

She said she would quite like to hear what Ms Manning had to say about the types off abuses that she did expose.

Immigration New Zealand has confirmed it has received a request for a special direction visa from Chelsea Manning's representatives.

An immigration staff member would look at the representations in the first instance, Immigration New Zealand manager Michael Carley said in a statement.

If Miss Manning's request was not successful she could choose to make representations to the Minister or Associate Minister of Immigration, he said.

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