WikiLeaks whistle-blower Chelsea Manning shouldn’t be allowed into NZ, says National’s Michael Woodhouse

Source: 1News

National Party immigration spokesperson Michael Woodhouse says Ms Manning should not be allowed to enter the country due to her criminal convictions. 

'People with criminal convictions of this type are not allowed into New Zealand without a special direction. I could see no circumstances that would warrant Chelsea Manning coming into New Zealand."

"She still has several criminal convictions... and her conviction was not overturned."

However, others politicians have come out in support of Ms Manning's visit.

ACT leader David Seymour said in a tweet he "absolutely support Chelsea Manning’s right to come here and speak".

"While I may disagree with her past actions, the free exchange of ideas is fundamental to a democratic society. We must protect it."

Green Party's Golriz Ghahraman told Stuff Ms Manning's convictions were through "trying to hold people account for misuses of power".

"Silencing Chelsea is particularly callous, given she has already done her time through a lengthy terms of imprisonment in particularly difficult circumstances."

The Free Speech Coalition have criticised Mr Woodhouse's view on the issue, saying "New Zealanders should not be denied an opportunity to hear a personal account of military misuse of power, even by an ally".

"It is the right of New Zealanders to hear from someone who is noteworthy albeit controversial."

Chelsea Manning was released early from a 35-year prison sentence early after President Obama reduced her sentence to four months. 

Ms Manning was previously an army intelligence analyst behind the 2010 leak of government and military documents to WikiLeaks. She was known as Bradley Manning at the time of her arrest. 

Mr Woodhouse said people can read the story of Chelsea Manning's "criminal offender and her convictions" when asked about those who wanted to watch her speak, but he did not "think she should be allowed into New Zealand". 

"This isn't a matter of free speech, this is a matter of having a standard for allowing the people who come into New Zealand to reach that standard. This would be a very low bar if people with these sorts of criminal convictions were allowed in."

Ms Manning is scheduled to speak in New Zealand on September 8. 

Immigration NZ Manager Michael Carley said a request for a special direction was received.

"Ms Manning needs a special direction as she is subject to character provisions... An appropriately delegated INZ staff member will look at the representations in the first instance. If the request is not successful Ms Manning may choose to make representations to the Minister or Associate Minister of Immigration."

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway was asked by Mr Woodhouse in a written question what "extenuating circumstances" would allow an "an applicant who has been convicted in their home country of espionage, leaking classified information and aiding the enemy". 

"People with criminal convictions or who have provided false or misleading information will generally not be granted a visa unless a character waiver is granted," Mr Lees-Galloway said. "In the case of character waivers, each application is considered on its individual merits and taking into account, for example, the seriousness of an offence, number of offences and how long ago the event/s occurred, the applicant's reason for travel to New Zealand, and the public interest."  

For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6.