Chelsea Manning, the once-imprisoned activist, leaker of classified information, and transgender woman, has been barred from entering the country of Australia, news sources have reported.
Human rights organizations were in an uproar after the Australian government denied Manning a visa. Manning applied so she could speak at a series of public events in the country.
Critics have charged the government with a deliberate restriction of Manning’s free speech rights.
The one-time soldier attained notoriety, and was sent to prison, after she leaked thousands and thousands of military documents and government secrets eight years ago. The term of imprisonment was thirty-five years, a term that was later shortened by departing President Obama.
Manning was released from prison in January 2017.
Reports indicate that instead of appearing in person, Manning will speak at the Australian event by videolink from nearby New Zealand.
The festival, which was planned out by the organization Think, Inc., is set to run from September 7-11. Manning’s speech will concern her experiences in whistleblowing. She will also speak on her work as an advocate for LGBTQ rights.
According to Pink News, “Claire Mallinson, Amnesty International Australia’s national director, said: ‘By failing to approve a visa for Chelsea Manning, our government has silenced an important voice on human rights and in doing so sends a message to the people of Australia, and to the international community, that this new Australian government places little value on freedom of speech.’”
The Guardian quoted Suzi Jamil, the director of Think Inc., as saying “We are disappointed that Chelsea can no longer appear in Melbourne or Brisbane in person, nevertheless we are pleased that Melbourne and Brisbane audiences will still have the opportunity to hear her directly.”
In a statement, Steve Stuart, general manager of New Zealand Immigration, said that “The assessment noted that Ms Manning has not reoffended since her release from prison and the likelihood of her offending while in New Zealand is considered low.”
SBS News noted that a pro-Manning petition online calling for her to be allowed in Australia had garnered twenty thousand signatures.