Whistle-blower Chelsea Manning will be allowed to visit New Zealand, immigration department rules

Source: 1News

US whistle-blower Chelsea Manning has been granted special direction by Immigration New Zealand, allowing her to apply for a specific purpose work visa to enter New Zealand.

Manning, a former army intelligence analyst best-known for leaking classified military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks, is scheduled to speak in Auckland on September 8 and Wellington on September 9.

She served nearly seven years of a 35-year sentence in prison for her disclosure.

"While Ms Manning was convicted of a serious offence and sentenced to 35 years’ imprisonment, it was noted that her sentence was commuted by President Obama in January 2017," INZ's Steve Stuart said in a written statement.

"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.

"It was also noted that she has travelled to a number of countries to speak at similar events and appears to have complied with the terms and conditions of any visas issued.

"In reaching the decision the officer could see no reason to believe Ms Manning would not comply with the terms and conditions of any visa issued by INZ."

National Party immigration spokesman Michael Woodhouse wants bar Manning from visiting New Zealand, while Green Party MP Golriz Ghahraman this week argued that she has "done her time".

"What is it about her that would pose a risk to us?" Ms Ghahraman said, "she's done her time - do we say that she should be silenced forever?"

Mr Woodhouse said "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."

It appears likely Australia will deny her permission to visit. 

The controversy over her visit follows public debate and controversy over the visit of Canadian alt-right speakers Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux early this month.

Questions were also asked around whether or not the pair should be granted visa for New Zealand, which they eventually were, but then had their lined-up venues pull out from hosting them.