Canadian government lawyers have invited Chelsea Manning to a hearing so border agents can turn her away

Chelsea Manning has asked a Canadian court to overturn her travel ban so she can visit friends, hoping to visit the country despite border officials keen to deport her.

Manning, 33, was barred from visiting the country because of her conviction for leaking military secrets to WikiLeaks. Manning served seven years in prison from 2010 to 2017 for violating the Espionage Act.

In one of his last acts as president, Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence and she was released from her 35-year sentence.

In September 2017, she was stopped at the border, trying to enter Quebec, and has since been fighting to regain her right to enter the country.

On Thursday, a hearing was held in Ottawa, which government lawyers invited her to attend in person because they wanted to forcibly remove her if she lost her case.

Chelsea Manning, pictured in May 2019, is asking a Canadian court to overturn the country’s travel ban

Manning's attorneys released a document ahead of the hearing, noting:

Manning’s lawyers released a document ahead of the hearing, noting: “Despite seeking to bar her from entering the country, Canadian officials have acknowledged that Ms. Manning’s leaks caused little or no no harm and posed no risk to Canada.”

“The Minister submits that holding an admissibility hearing without the person concerned being physically present in Canada would prevent him from executing a removal order that could be issued at the end of the procedure,” argued the lawyers for the Minister of Public Safety.

The Immigration and Refugee Board denied the minister’s request to postpone the hearing until Manning could appear in person.

“If she was physically in Canada when the order was issued, the requirement would be that she leave Canada,” arbitrator Marisa Musto wrote.

“Given that she is already outside of Canada, which is not in question, it can be said that the ‘objective’ of [the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act] regarding the denial of access to Canadian territory to inadmissible persons would, de facto, be met.

Manning, who since leaving prison has become an advocate for transgender rights, ran for the Massachusetts Senate and worked as a security consultant, told the hearing Thursday that she hoped the issue could finally be resolved.

“I really love Canada,” she told the hearing, according to Radio Canada.

“I have a lot of friends in Canada and obviously the pandemic got in the way of a lot of things, but certainly in 2018 and 2019 I wanted to visit friends in Canada, especially in Montreal and Vancouver.”

Manning is seen in November 2017 - two months after she was turned away from the Canadian border as she attempted to enter Quebec

Manning is seen in November 2017 – two months after she was turned away from the Canadian border as she attempted to enter Quebec

Ahead of the hearing, her lawyers said: “Although they sought to bar her from entering the country, Canadian authorities have acknowledged that Ms Manning’s leaks caused little or no harm and that ‘it posed no risk to Canada.”

Yet Anthony Lashley, a government lawyer, said the Canadian government did not want her allowed into the country.

Manning’s attorney, Joshua Blum, argued that her US offenses were not relevant to Canada because Canada has different laws, so she should be allowed to enter the country.

The documents included diplomatic cables, sensitive Guantanamo Bay information and details about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

They also included harrowing video footage of US soldiers shooting dead Iraqi civilians and a Reuters photographer from a helicopter in 2007.

“We have a public interest defense for what Manning was convicted of,” he said.

“The United States doesn’t.”

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

“The ongoing and unreported killings of Iraqi and Afghan civilians necessitated this act of denunciation,” he said.

“We further add that acts of whistleblowing are acts of honesty and not fraud.”

Asked by Blum why she leaked the documents, Manning said “it always seems so obvious.”

She added, “I was just shocked at how much people knew how bad war was in particular.”

Manning said she did not share sensitive documents that would reveal the sources of US government intelligence.

She is still bound by a nondisclosure agreement with the US government and did not go into detail about what she disclosed.

Manning’s hearing will continue on Friday.