‘Confounding’ government request was denied by the Immigration Review Board
Lawyers for the Canadian government asked US whistleblower Chelsea Manning to attend an immigration hearing in Ottowa, so that border agents could physically remove her from the country if she lost her case.
Ms Manning has previously been denied entry to Canada because of her conviction for leaking sensitive government documents about the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Border officials can deny entry to people who have been convicted of crimes that would incur ten or more years in prison in Canada.
Ms Manning’s lawyers had said she would attend the hearing on Thursday virtually, but government lawyers asked her to attend in person, so that if the government won its case, she could be removed from Canada, reports The Guardian.
The government’s request for her appearance in person was denied by an adjudicator, who called the request “confounding”.
“The purpose of a removal order is to compel an individual who is found to be inadmissible to leave Canada. Should the [Immigration Review Board] issue a removal order against an individual who does not attend their hearing from a location in Canada,” the government told the IRB, it would “be impractical for CBSA to enforce the order.”
The bizarre reasoning was not accepted by IRB adjudicator Marisa Musto, who dismissed the government’s motion.
“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,” Ms Musto said in her ruling.
Ms Manning is an activist and whistleblower, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013 for leaking thousands of classified documents to WikiLeaks. Her sentence was commuted in 2017, but she has been denied entry into Canada because of the conviction.
Ms Manning’s lawyers argued that for Canada to deny entry to “one of the most well-known whistleblowers in modern history” would undermine constitutional and press freedoms.
A judgment is expected to be issued in the coming weeks.