National's Michael Woodhouse says Chelsea Manning should not be allowed in NZ

Drive 28/08/2018

The National Party says the Government should refuse to allow US whistleblower Chelsea Manning to visit New Zealand for a speaking tour.

"She is a convicted felon. Ordinary rules should apply, there shouldn't be special treatment," says National Party leader Simon Bridges.

Ms Manning, a former US Army intelligence analyst, was found guilty of espionage and theft and sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking military files to Wikileaks.

Her sentence was commuted by President Barack Obama and she was released from prison in May 2017 after a tumultuous seven years behind bars which included two suicide attempts and a hunger strike.

She plans to speak about her time in prison, privacy, transgender issues and Wikileaks.

"I'm all for free speech. I think that everyone should be allowed to come and speak in New Zealand. The issue here though is that Chelsea Manning has a conviction and ordinary rules should be applied there," Mr Bridges told Newshub.

National Party immigration spokesperson Michael Woodhouse told RadioLIVE Drive this issue isn't about free speech.

"Chelsea Manning cannot come to New Zealand because of her criminal offending unless she's given a special direction.

"If I was to be considering something like that there'd be a few considerations; time since the offence, the sort of remorse and rehabilitation that's been undertaken, whether she has family ties and perhaps the reason for the visit," Mr Woodhouse said.

"I would have those concerns whether she was coming here to speak or lie on a beach. But really there is no case for her to be given a special direction."

Listen to the full interview with Michael Woodhouse above.

Drive with Lisa Owen and Shane Te Pou, filling in for Ryan Bridge,  3pm - 6pm Weekdays and streaming live on 'rova' channel 9 - available on Android and iPhone.