Sputnik has discussed this with Greg Barns, a prominent human rights lawyer, Spokesman for the Australian Lawyers Alliance and member of Julian Assange legal team.
Sputnik: What are you making of this ban? What do you think of it?
Sputnik: So do you think this is more about not wanting to offend Washington?
Greg Barns: I do, and also you've got a conservative government in Australia which is very close to Washington. Australia, of course, participated in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan and the military establishment and the security establishment of Australia would be very hostile to Chelsea.
Sputnik: Chelsea has done her time and had a sentence commuted by Obama, why do you think it's such a big deal to allow Chelsea to come to Australia? What is the fear? What will she possibly do in Australia?
Greg Barns: Well, it's a very good question. The law is generally only applied to people who the government thinks may jeopardize Australian interests. It's hard to see, by any stretch of the imagination, how a short trip by Chelsea Manning to Australia to speak at some venues and to conduct some interviews could be in any way damaging to Australia's interests. As I say, I think this is really a very hypocritical stance by the Australian government.
It's allowed some extreme right speakers into the country over the past 12 months or two years. There's been within the current government talk about the right to freedom of speech and the importance of the right to freedom of speech and yet here we have a case where freedom of speech is being denied.
Sputnik: So you think that there was any pressure put on the Australian government or the agencies that made this decision by the US?
Greg Barns: I would've thought there's absolutely no doubt that the United States would've put some pressure on the Australian government. The Australian government, unfortunately, doesn't need much pressure. If Washington says jump, generally Australia jumps.
Sputnik: What is the Australian government's stance on whistleblowers?
We've seen a number of other whistleblowers subjected to some serious mistreatment by the Australian government, particularly, those who have exposed the maltreatment of asylum seekers. So Australia has a poor track record when it comes to looking after whistleblowers.
Sputnik: What do you think could've been offensive or damaging, was there anything that was unpleasant for the Australian government?
Greg Barns: Well, what she exposed was the appalling conduct of the United States and its allies in Iraq and Afghanistan. And that would, of course, embarrass Australia, and it should embarrass Australian, because there are many millions of Australians who opposed those wars and what Chelsea Manning did was to reveal the truth about those wars.
Sputnik: Some experts have actually expressed hope that the Australian government would offer a solution to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and either stand up for him in some way or return him to the country, you work with Julian Assange, of course, do you think there's any hope that this actually will happen?
Greg Barns: Look, I think they're separate issues; and the Chelsea Manning issue is very different and separate issue to the issue of Julian Assange. I don't think they're related particularly. I think the issue in relation to Chelsea Manning is very much one way the Australian government doesn't want to offend the United States by giving a platform to Chelsea Manning.
Sputnik: How much attention has this gotten in the press?
Greg Barns: It's got a lot of attention in Australia and I think most Australians again are shaking their heads at why it is the Australian government has to be so sycophantic towards the United States.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of Greg Barns and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.