Canadian government lawyers recently invited US whistleblower Chelsea Manning to attend a hearing in Ottawa – so border officials can then physically remove her from the country.
The bizarre request, which was ultimately dismissed by an adjudicator, was made ahead of an immigration hearing scheduled to begin Thursday for Manning, whose previous attempts to enter Canada have been denied.
Manning, a former US intelligence analyst who leaked thousands of sensitive government documents and diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks about the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, was sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2013.
Her sentence was commuted in 2017, but she was recently refused entry to Canada due to her conviction.
Border officers can try people ineligible to enter Canada if they have been convicted of crimes abroad that would have resulted in a Canadian jail term of 10 years or more.
Last week, government lawyers asked her to travel to the country so that if the government wins her case, she can be fired. Manning’s attorneys had said she would attend the hearing virtually, from her home in the United States.
“The purpose of a removal order is to force a person found to be inadmissible to leave Canada. Is the [Immigration Review Board] issue a removal order against someone who does not show up for their hearing from a location in Canada, “the government told the IRB in documents obtained by the National Post, saying it would be” impossible for the CBSA to execute the order ”.
But that reasoning made little sense to IRB adjudicator Marisa Musto, who rejected the government’s motion on Monday.
“If she was physically in Canada when the order was made, the requirement would be that she leave Canada. Given that it is already outside of Canada, which is not in question, it can be said that the “objective” of [immigration laws] … Would be de facto satisfied, ”Musto said in his decision, calling the government’s request“ baffling ”.
Manning’s lawyers have fiercely challenged the ban on his entry into Canada, arguing that an attempt by the country’s federal government to prevent “one of the most notorious whistleblowers in modern history” from entering the country violate constitutional and press freedoms.
The hearing is expected to last two days, with a judgment handed down in the coming weeks.