On Friday August 31st, whistleblower Chelsea Manning was due to fly into Australia on a speaking tour about her experiences and activism.
Chelsea Manning was a key participant in the 2010 video leaks of a 2007 US air strike in Baghdad. Those leaks revealed the killing of two Reuters journalists and multiple civilians, considered by some to be war crimes.1 However, once her actions were discovered, she was sentenced to 35 years in jail across multiple charges, serving seven of them until her sentence was commuted by Barack Obama. Her convicted charges included espionage, theft, computer fraud and breaches of military regulations. The information was published by Wikileaks.2
While some Americans call her a traitor for actions, we in the Pirate Party offer her support for her brave actions in revealing the inhumane actions of the US armed forces in Baghdad. Under official Party Policy34 we have a commitment to offer diplomatic aid to overseas whistleblowers who have acted in the public good; we consider Chelsea Manning to have done so. On the same basis we support aid to whistleblower Edward Snowden who revealed mass US government spying on European and Australian citizens in 2013 and now forced to seek asylum from the US, and to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange who has been under indefinite detention in the London Ecuadorean Embassy since 2012 to avoid being extradited to the US.
Party President Miles Whiticker said, "In the face of unjust laws, it is the duty of all moral individuals to agitate for change. We do not advocate breaking the law. However, we do seek the strongest protections for whistleblowers in national and international law, whether they are exposing war crimes overseas or corruption and fraud within Australia."
As recently as two days before her flight, the Australian Department of Home Affairs issued a notice of intention to refuse her Australian visa due to her recent criminal history. The tour will still be going ahead, with Ms. Manning speaking via live stream. Pirate Party Australia calls for the refusal to be lifted, if only symbolically, and for the government to honour fully the Public Interest Disclosure (Whistleblower Protection) Bill 2012 and reconsider its intelligence sharing relationship with the US.
Chelsea is speaking on Sunday 2nd September in Sydney, Friday 7th September in Melbourne and Tuesday 11th September in Brisbane.
Disclosure statement: Pirate Party Australia has been offered several complimentary tickets to the tour.