National Post (Latest Edition)

Come to Canada to be kicked out

Government’s odd approach to Chelsea Manning

- Adrian humphreys

The government of Canada asked U.S. whistleblo­wer Chelsea Manning to travel to Canada so border agents would be able to physically kick her out of Canada.

The odd request was made by government lawyers last week in anticipati­on of an immigratio­n hearing scheduled to begin Thursday for the former U.S. soldier who leaked thousands of U.S. documents that changed the public’s view of the wars in Afghanista­n and Iraq.

The hearing on whether Manning is eligible to visit Canada is to be held by video conference.

Lawyers on behalf of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedne­ss asked the Immigratio­n and Refugee Board (IRB) to postpone the hearing until Manning is in Canada for it, rather than participat­ing over a video link from her home in the United States.

The government said that if she wasn’t physically in the country, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) wouldn’t be able to remove her, if the government wins its case.

“The purpose of a removal order is to compel an individual who is found to be inadmissib­le to leave Canada,” the government’s written argument says.

“Should the (IRB) issue a removal order against an individual who does not attend their hearing from a location in Canada,” the government told the IRB in written argument, it would “be impractica­l for CBSA to enforce the order.”

Manning’s lawyers objected to the request.

In a decision Monday, IRB adjudicato­r Marisa Musto dismissed the government’s motion, saying the intent of Parliament was simply for people who aren’t allowed to be in Canada to not be here.

If Manning is found to be inadmissib­le after the hearing, the effect on Manning would be the same wherever in the world she was, Musto said.

“If she were physically in Canada when the order was made, the requiremen­t would be that she leave Canada. Given that she is already outside Canada, a fact which is not in question, it can be said that the ‘objective’ of (immigratio­n laws) … would, de facto, be fulfilled,” Musto said in her ruling.

“Admissibil­ity proceeding­s not only have the effect of removing inadmissib­le persons from Canadian territory but also to preclude them from entering.”

Musto said there had already been plenty of admissibil­ity hearings for people outside of Canada that the government did not object to.

“This inconsiste­ncy in the Minister’s position is confoundin­g.”

Manning, a 33-year-old American citizen, was a military intelligen­ce analyst deployed to Iraq in 2009 who became one of the bestknown American whistleblo­wers after leaking a vast trove of documents through Wikileaks to major news organizati­ons around the world.

The documents revealed undeclared civilian deaths, complicity in torture, significan­t human rights abuses and evidence contradict­ing the U.S. government’s public versions of its wartime actions.

Manning was arrested and convicted under the U.S. Espionage Act and Computer Fraud and Abuse Act and sentenced to 35 years in prison, the longest sentence ever issued in the United States for leaking.

In 2017, after seven years in prison, Manning’s sentence was commuted by U.S. President Barack Obama.

Soon after her release, Manning tried to come to Canada but was stopped at the border. She was considered inadmissib­le by CBSA because she has been convicted of a serious criminal offence outside Canada.

A hearing on her admissibil­ity is scheduled for two days, but a decision is not expected to be released immediatel­y afterward. Written submission­s are expected from both Manning and the government following oral arguments.

On Sept. 17, Manning said she tested positive for COVID-19 despite being fully vaccinated.

“I will be quarantine­d for the remainder of the month — my symptoms are very mild thanks to being fully vaxxed in April,” she said on Twitter.

On Oct. 1, Manning tweeted: “off quarantine and feeling good.”

 ?? CLIFF OWEN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES ?? Former Army intelligen­ce analyst Chelsea Manning leaked documents exposing U.S. human rights abuses.
CLIFF OWEN / THE ASSOCIATED PRESS FILES Former Army intelligen­ce analyst Chelsea Manning leaked documents exposing U.S. human rights abuses.

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