Famed whistleblower Chelsea Manning has been barred from Canada by the Immigration and Refugee Board over her prior convictions in the United States.
Manning became an internationally known figure when the former United States intelligence analyst leaked hundreds of thousands of classified documents about the war in Iraq and Afghanistan to WikiLeaks in 2010.
She was sentenced to 35 years in prison for several charges, including espionage and theft, but her sentence was later commuted by former U.S. President Barack Obama.
Manning was turned away from the Canadian border in 2017 when she tried to enter the country as a visitor, because of her serious criminal record.
In a decision on April 8, the Immigration and Refugee Board determined that if Manning committed the same offence in Canada, it would be punishable by a prison term of more than 10 years.
For that reason, the panel found her inadmissible to Canada.
In an October 2021 hearing, she claimed her actions were born of necessity because of the urgent and imminent threat to the lives of Afghan and Iraqi civilians and detainees.
Manning attended the hearing by video conference from her home in the United States.
In leaking the documents, Manning said she sought to make the public aware of the ongoing illegal and abusive actions of U.S. and its allies in the context of the “war on terror,” including the disproportionate deaths of civilians.
The board rejected her argument because Manning also leaked diplomatic cables that exposed how the United States sold the war on terror to other nations.
“The panel cannot conclude, based on the evidence available, that there was a clear and imminent peril that needed to be avoided and that it was inevitable and unavoidable for the person concerned to act as she did,” the decision read.
Manning’s lawyers, Joshua Blum and Lex Gill, say the decision is “characterized by legal errors” and they intend to seek a judicial review.
They also intend to continue with a constitutional challenge in Federal Court to a section of the Criminal Code related to the unauthorized use of a computer.
Had Manning leaked the documents in Canada, she may have been convicted of the offence, which forbids fraudulently obtaining computer data.
Her lawyers argue the provision is “overboard and criminalizes whistle-blowing.”