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Controversial whistleblower Chelsea Manning fighting to be let into Canada – CBC.ca

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Chelsea Manning, the former U.S. intelligence analyst who was convicted in one the largest breaches of classified information in American history, is fighting to be allowed into Canada.

The Canadian government is seeking to ban her from entering the country, arguing that she should be denied entry because of the serious criminality of her prior convictions on espionage charges in her home country.

Manning is appearing virtually today in front of the Immigration and Refugee Board for an admissibility hearing. The administrative tribunal makes decisions about who can enter and stay in Canada.

“I really like Canada,” she told the hearing today.

“I have many friends in Canada and obviously the pandemic has gotten in the way of a lot of this, but certainly in 2018 and 2019 I wanted to visit some friends in Canada, particularly in Montreal and Vancouver.”

Her case dates back to September 2017, when border officers denied her entry at Quebec’s St-Bernard-de-Lacolle border crossing. At the time, the government, citing her espionage charge, argued that if it had been committed in Canada “this offence would equate to an indictable offence, namely, treason.”

Anthony Lashley, a lawyer for the CBSA representing the minister, said the government is asking the tribunal to issue Manning a removal order and rule that she is not permitted to enter again.

Lashley spent the morning questioning Manning on how she accessed, downloaded and shared thousands of classified documents with WikiLeaks in 2010 while serving in the U.S. military.

He also questioned her on her previous plans to share information with various news organizations.

‘Whistleblowing are acts of honesty’: lawyer

Manning’s lawyer Joshua Blum argued her American offences are not equivalent to Canadian offences, making her not inadmissible. 

He pointed to a provision in the Security of Information Act, Canada’s national secrets act, which includes whistleblower protection in the “public interest.”

“We have a public interest defence for what Manning was convicted of,” he said. “The U.S. doesn’t.”

Blum also argued Manning’s actions were justified by “necessity” and that the public interest in disclosing that information outweighed the harm.

“The ongoing and unreported killings of Iraqi and Afghan civilians necessitated this act of whistleblowing,” he said.

“We further add the acts of whistleblowing are acts of honesty, not fraudulence.”

Manning found guilty on multiple charges in 2013

Manning has been both praised as a whistleblower and maligned as a traitor for leaking hundreds of thousands of classified government documents.

She said she wanted to expose what she considered to be the U.S. military’s disregard for how the Iraq War was affecting civilians, and that she did it “out of love” for her country.

In 2013, she was convicted of six counts of violating the United States’s Espionage Act — which forbids unauthorized people from sharing national defence information — and a handful of other charges, including stealing government property. She was acquitted of the most serious charge against her: aiding the enemy.

When asked by her counsel why she shared the documents, Manning said “it always feels so self evident.”

“I was just shocked at how little people knew about how bad the war in particular was,” she said.

While being questioned by the adjudicator, Manning said she didn’t share sensitive documents that would reveal sources of U.S. government intelligence.

In one of his last acts as president, Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence in 2017. She was released from military prison after serving seven years of a 35-year sentence.

Manning was granted a visa to enter Canada to speak at an event back in 2018, but it came with no formal resolution of her admissibility.

Ottawa wanted Manning to appear in person

Ahead of today’s hearing, the government objected to Manning appearing via video conference because that would prevent officials from deporting her immediately if an order came down quickly.

“The minister submits that holding an admissibility hearing without the person concerned being physically present in Canada would preclude them from enforcing a removal order which may be issued at the end of the proceedings,” says the text of an interlocutory decision that rejected the government’s request.

The content of that decision was first reported by the National Post.

Last week, lawyers acting for the minister of Public Safety asked the Immigration and Refugee Board to delay the hearing until Manning could appear in person.

The board said no.

“If she were physically in Canada when the order was made, the requirement would be that she leave Canada,” wrote adjudicator Marisa Musto.

“Given that she is already outside Canada, a fact which is not in question, it can be said that the ‘objective’ of [the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act] in regards to denying access to Canadian territory to persons who are inadmissible would, de facto, be fulfilled.”

Manning described the four-year process to land a Canadian hearing as “exhausting.”

“Plus, I also have to relive this era, going over stuff that happened a decade ago again,” she said.

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Overcoming scandal and PTSD, Japan’s Princess Mako finally marries college sweetheart

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Japan‘s Princess Mako, the emperor’s niece, has married her commoner college sweetheart on Tuesday and left the royal family after a years-long engagement beset by scrutiny that has left the princess with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Mako and fiance Kei Komuro, both 30, announced their engagement four years ago, a move initially cheered by the country. But things soon turned sour as tabloids reported on a money scandal involving Komuro’s mother, prompting the press to turn on him. The marriage was postponed, and he left Japan for law studies in New York in 2018 only to return in September.

Their marriage consisted of an official from the Imperial Household Agency (IHA), which runs the family’s lives, submitting paperwork to a local office in the morning, foregoing the numerous rituals and ceremonies usual to royal weddings, including a reception.

Mako also refused to receive a one-off payment of about $1.3 million typically made to royal women who marry commoners and become ordinary citizens, in line with Japanese law.

Television footage showed Mako, wearing a pastel dress and pearls, saying goodbye to her parents and 26-year-old sister, Kako, at the entrance to their home. Though all wore masks in line with Japan’s coronavirus protocol, her mother could be seen blinking rapidly, as if to fight off tears.

Though Mako bowed formally to her parents, her sister grabbed her shoulders and the two shared a long embrace.

In the afternoon, Mako and her new husband will hold a news conference, which will also depart from custom. While royals typically answer pre-submitted questions at such events, the couple will make a brief statement and hand out written replies to the questions instead.

“Some of the questions took mistaken information as fact and upset the princess,” said officials at the IHA, according to NHK public television.

Komuro, dressed in a crisp dark suit and tie, bowed briefly to camera crews gathered outside his home as he left in the morning but said nothing. His casual demeanour on returning to Japan, including long hair tied back in a ponytail, had sent tabloids into a frenzy.

MONEY SCANDAL

Just months after the two announced their engagement at a news conference where their smiles won the hearts of the nation, tabloids reported a financial dispute between Komuro’s mother and her former fiance, with the man claiming mother and son had not repaid a debt of about $35,000.

The scandal spread to mainstream media after the IHA failed to provide a clear explanation. In 2021, Komuro issued a 24-page statement on the matter and also said he would pay a settlement.

Public opinion polls show the Japanese are divided about the marriage, and there has been at least one protest.

Analysts say the problem is that the imperial family is so idealised that not the slightest hint of trouble with things such as money or politics should touch them.

The fact that Mako’s father and younger brother, Hisahito, are both in the line of succession after Emperor Naruhito, whose daughter is ineligible to inherit, makes the scandal particularly damaging, said Hideya Kawanishi, an associate professor of history at Nagoya University.

“Though it’s true they’ll both be private citizens, Mako’s younger brother will one day become emperor, so some people thought anybody with the problems he (Komuro) had shouldn’t be marrying her,” Kawanishi added.

The two will live in New York, though Mako will remain on her own in Tokyo for some time after the wedding to prepare for the move, including applying for the first passport of her life.

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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EU countries splinter ahead of crisis talks on energy price spike

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Divisions have deepened among European Union countries ahead of an emergency meeting of ministers on Tuesday on their response to a spike in energy prices, with some countries seeking a regulatory overhaul and others firmly opposed.

European gas prices have hit record highs in autumn and remained at lofty levels, prompting most EU countries to respond with emergency measures like price caps and subsidies to help trim consumer energy bills.

Countries are struggling to agree, however, on a longer term plan to cushion against fossil-fuel price swings, which Spain, France, the Czech Republic and Greece say warrant a bigger shake-up of the way EU energy markets work.

Ministers from those countries will make the case on Tuesday for proposals that include decoupling European electricity and gas prices, joint gas buying among countries to create emergency reserves, and, in the case of a few countries including Poland, delaying planned policies to address climate change.

In an indication of differences likely to emerge at the meeting, nine countries including Germany – Europe’s biggest economy and market for electricity – on Monday said they would not support EU electricity market reforms.

“This will not be a remedy to mitigate the current rising energy prices linked to fossil fuels markets,” the countries said in a joint statement.

The European Commission has asked regulators to analyse the design of Europe’s electricity market, but said there was no evidence that a different market structure would have fared better during the recent price jump.

“Any interventions on the market and the decoupling of [gas and power] pricing are off the table,” one EU diplomat said, adding there was “no appetite” among most countries for those measures.

Other proposals – such as countries forming joint gas reserves – would also not offer a quick fix and could take months to negotiate. A European Commission proposal to upgrade EU gas market regulation to make it greener, due in December, is seen as the earliest that such proposals would arrive.

With less than a week until the international COP26 climate change summit, the energy price spike has also stoked tensions between countries over the EU’s green policies, setting up a clash as they prepare to negotiate new proposals including higher tax rates for polluting fuels.

Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban has dismissed such plans as “utopian fantasy”, a stance at odds with other EU countries who say the price jump should trigger a faster switch to low-emission, locally produced renewable energy, to help reduce exposure to imported fossil fuel prices.

 

(Reporting by Kate Abnett; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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Bad weather off Canadian coast preventing efforts to board container ship after fire

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Bad weather off Canada‘s Pacific Coast on Monday prevented a salvage crew from boarding a cargo ship where several containers of chemicals burned over the weekend, the coast guard said.

Sixteen crew members were evacuated from the MV Zim Kingston on Saturday. Five remained onboard to fight the fire, which was largely under control by late Sunday.

The company has appointed a salvage crew “but due to the current weather, (they) have been unable to board the container ship”, the coast guard said on Twitter.

“The containers continue to smolder and boundary cooling – spraying water on the hull and on containers near the fire – continues,” it added.

The ship is anchored several kilometers (miles) off the southern coast of Vancouver Island, in the province of British Columbia. There is no impact to human health, the coast guard said.

Danaos Shipping Co, the company that manages the ship, said on Sunday that no injuries had been reported on board.

 

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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