After being approached by representatives of Chelsea Manning, the Castan Centre has written the following letter to the Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, The Hon. David Coleman MP.
30 August 2018
The Hon. David Coleman MP
Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsea Manning – File No CLF 2018/191361
We refer to your Department’s intention to consider refusal of Chelsea Manning’s visa application under s501(1) the Migration Act.
Ms Manning was convicted via court martial in 2013 of a number of offenses relating to the release of classified military documents. She served a number of years in prison prior to her release in 2017.
In a commutation application, Ms Manning made her contrition clear, stating that “I take full and complete responsibility for my decision to disclose the materials to the public. I have never made any excuses for what I did. I pleaded guilty without the protection of a plea deal”. Her application also noted that by January 2017, she had served “longer than any person accused of similar crimes ever has”.
Ms Manning’s sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama in January 2017. In remarks to the media, the President stated that the decision was “entirely appropriate”, adding that “I feel very comfortable that justice has been served”.
Ms Manning has taken responsibility for her actions; her contrition has been recognised by the former President of the United States; and she is a public figure with an important contribution to make to the public debate on many issues related to her experiences. We believe that she comfortably satisfies the character grounds set out in the Migration Act.
Australia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which enshrines freedom of expression. Our country has had a long-standing commitment to protecting free speech, which is frequently reflected in your department’s decisions to grant visas to outspoken public figures.
We believe that the decision on Ms Manning’s visa application is one of great public interest. She is a controversial figure who has paid her debt to society for past wrongs and has much to contribute to public discourse in our country. We trust that you will grant her visa expeditiously.
Professor Sarah Joseph
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