SYDNEY: US whistleblower Chelsea Manning, jailed for leaking classified information, is facing a ban from Australia as organisers of a speaking tour said Thursday her visa application was likely to be refused.
The former soldier, freed last year after then-US president Barack Obama commuted her 35-year sentence days before he left office, was due to talk at the Sydney Opera House on Sunday followed by engagements in Melbourne and Brisbane.
The Australian government had no immediate comment, but media reports said the Department of Home Affairs confirmed that under the Migration Act applicants could be denied a visa if they had a "substantial criminal record".
Suzi Jamil from Think Inc, which organised Manning's tour of Australia and New Zealand, said a "notice of intention to consider refusal" of her visa application was received from the conservative government on Wednesday.
"We are very disappointed to learn that the department of home affairs has taken this approach and will be vigorously advocating for her ability to enter Australia," Jamil told AFP.
"Ms Manning has many formidable ideas and an insightful perspective which we are hoping to bring to the forefront of Australian dialogue".
Jamil said Think Inc would "pursue all legal avenues to the minister and hope he will decide to allow the Australian public to hear about vital issues around data privacy, artificial intelligence and transgender rights".
Manning, who was an army intelligence analyst, was detained in 2010 and jailed in 2013 for leaking over 700,000 classified documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The revelations by Manning, who is transgender and was then known as Bradley Manning, exposed covered-up misdeeds and possible crimes by US troops and allies.
Her actions made Manning a hero to anti-war and anti-secrecy activists but US establishment figures branded her a traitor.
She served seven years and during her incarceration battled for — and won — the right to start hormone treatment.
Manning's speaking tour has also generated lively debate in New Zealand, where she is booked for events on Sept 8 and 9.
She will need special dispensation to enter the country because of her convictions and the conservative opposition wants her barred, labelling Manning a felon who has shown no remorse and wants to profit by talking about her crimes.