Chelsea Manning claims she is permanently barred from entering Canada

Chelsea Manning was convicted of passing classified government material to WikiLeaks. Photo from Twitter

Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. intelligence analyst who was convicted for the biggest release of classified data in American history, revealed on Twitter that she has been barred from entering Canada.

Just earlier today, Manning tweeted out an image showing a notice from Citizenship, Refugees and Immigration Canada saying that she had been barred from entering due to prior convictions in the U.S. Manning was convicted for releasing nearly a million classified or unclassified but sensitive documents to Wikileaks, one of the largest leaks of classified information in the U.S. The leaks included the 2010 release of the infamous video, “Collateral Murder,” which showed a U.S. helicopter gunship crew gunning down two Reuters employees and a number of civilians in Baghdad, and the Afghan and Iraq War logs, which revealed troves of information hidden from the public about both wars.

The revelations eventually landed her in prison, charged with 22 offences, a number of which fell under the Espionage Act which carries heavy penalties. She pleaded guilty to 10 of the 22 charges, the most serious of which was aiding the enemy.

The notice of inadmissibility doesn’t surprise Joel Sandaluk, a Toronto-based immigration lawyer. “The thing with offences like treason or espionage is that those type of offences tend to be very, very broadly construed,” he says. “So it’s quite likely that a person convicted of an offence like that in many Western countries would also be convicted had these same acts occurred in Canada in relation to the Canadian government.”

People trying to enter Canada who have been charged with serious crimes are always reviewed, says Sandaluk. As seen in Manning’s notice, the government says it can reject entry to people “convicted of an offence outside of Canada that, if committed in Canada, would constitute an offence under an Act of Parliament punishable by a maximum term of imprisonment of at least 10 years.

Even a presidential pardon, which was floated at the time former President Barack Obama said he was commuting Manning’s sentence, would not allow her into the country.

The way that Canadian law works is that because pardons in the United States are made under a different type of legislative framework than in Canada, American pardons aren’t to a Canadian pardon or record suspension. We don’t respect theirs and they don’t respect ours,” said Sandaluk. “So even had she been pardoned, she would still be inadmissible for Canada.”

Manning does have an avenue for redress however, which she also announced on Twitter shortly after her initial post.

Meanwhile, the ministry of immigration has said that it cannot comment on the case due to privacy laws.

“Our government is committed to ensuring that every case put forward to IRCC is evaluated based on its merits and in a fair manner. All applicants can expect impartial, professional treatment and clear, accountable decision-making,” said a spokesperson to the CBC in an email statement.