Chelsea Manning can’t enter Canada due to prior convictions, says immigration board

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Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. intelligence analyst who was convicted in one of the largest breaches of classified information in American history, will not be allowed to enter Canada.

Former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning speaks with reporters after arriving at the federal courthouse in Alexandria, Va., on May 16, 2019. (The Associated Press)

Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. intelligence analyst who was convicted in one of the largest breaches of classified information in American history, will not be allowed to enter Canada due to her prior convictions in the United States.

In a decision dated April 8, the Immigration and Refugee Board sided with the federal government that she should be denied entry due to the gravity of her espionage record.

“Considering that Ms. Manning was convicted of an offence outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an offence under an act of Parliament punishable by a term of imprisonment of at least 10 years,” the panel’s decision noted.

Manning’s fight dates back to September 2017, when border officers denied her entry and argued that if her offences had been committed in Canada, they would “equate to an indictable offence, namely, treason.”

The Canada Border Services Agency can deny entry to any traveller on the basis of “criminal inadmissibility.”

Manning became famous more than a decade ago by leaking hundreds of thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks, the website founded by Julian Assange, while serving in the U.S. military.

Her actions have attracted both praise and condemnation.

Manning said she wanted to expose what she saw as the U.S. military’s disregard for how the Iraq war was hurting civilians, and that she did it “out of love” for her country.

In 2013, she was convicted of six counts of violating the Espionage Act — which forbids unauthorized people from sharing national defence information — and a handful of other charges, including stealing government property. She was acquitted of the most serious charge against her: aiding the enemy.

Lawyers say they will seek a review

In one of his last acts as U.S. president, Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence in 2017. She was released from military prison after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence.

During her Canadian hearing, Manning’s lawyers argued her American offences are not equivalent to Canadian offences and she should be allowed to enter.

Manning’s lawyers also argued her actions were justified by “necessity” and that the public interest in disclosing that information outweighed the harm.

“I was just shocked at how little people knew about how bad the war in particular was,” Manning said Thursday during testimony under oath.

Her lawyers say they intend to seek a judicial review.

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