In Support of Chelsea Manning Entering Canada

‘Chelsea Manning’ by Tim Travers Hawkins (CC BY-SA 4.0) at

Earlier this month I composed and sent a letter in support of Chelsea Manning being permitted to enter Canada. Manning previously released classified military and diplomatic documents to Wikileaks. Those documents shed light on American activities in Iraq as well as diplomatic efforts around the world, to the effect of revealing US avoidance of cluster munition bans, US pressure on the Italian government to drop charged against CIA operatives who conducted extraordinary rendition activities, and the actual causality rates suffered by Iraqi citizens. She was disallowed entry last year when Canadian officials asserted that the crimes associated with her whistleblowing in the United States were akin to a violation of Canadian treason laws. The letter that I wrote in support of her entry to Canada is reproduced, below.

October 13, 2017


Hon. Ahmed Hussen
Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

Hon. Ralph Goodale
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

RE:     Welcoming Chelsea Manning to Canada


Dear Minister Hussen and Minister Goodale:

I am writing as a Research Associate at the Citizen Lab, Munk School of Global Affairs, at the University of Toronto to ask you to allow Chelsea Manning to enter Canada. Refusing her entry to the country is a real loss for Canada and an injustice to whistleblowers who expose information in the public interest.

Chelsea is an internationally recognized advocate for freedom of expression, transparency, and civil liberties. As a whistleblower, she revealed documents that—among other things—exposed the disproportionate impact of military activities abroad on civilians, including journalists and children. Her work has been used by academics across Canada to understand the impacts American adventurism, the relationships between American diplomats and government officials with autocratic governments, and the status of copyright negotiations between US officials and their foreign counterparts. Documents that she provided to the public also shed light on critical issues such as the United States’ avoidance of cluster munitions bans, the United States’ pressure on the Italian government to drop charges against CIA operatives who engaged in renditions, American military executions of civilians, and Iraqi civilian death tolls. She has received a host of awards from prominent media and human rights organizations for this work.

Not all Canadians will agree with what Chelsea did or what she stands for—but as a country that values freedom of expression, open dialogue, and human rights we should permit her to visit and speak in Canada. She stands as a guiding light for persons to stand up and both do what they believe to be honorable and right, as well as be held to account for those beliefs and corresponding actions.

Whether Chelsea wishes to enter Canada to continue her work to advocate for social change or simply to visit friends, there is no principled reason to turn her away. She has served her time in a US military prison after accepting responsibility for her actions. Her sentence was commuted by former US President Barack Obama in January 2017 and she has been living freely in the United States since May 2017. Continuing to deny her entry to Canada would serve no rational benefit to public safety and would undermine Canada’s commitment to international justice and human rights.

Letting Chelsea enter Canada would affirm Canada’s values of dialogue, freedom of expression, and human rights. More than that, letting Chelsea in is simply the right thing to do.

I look forward to hearing news of your decision.


Dr. Christopher Parsons
Research Associate, Citizen Lab, Munk School of
Global Affairs, at the University of Toronto

The Canadian SIGINT Summaries

Grondstation van de Nationale SIGINT Organisatie (NSO) in Burum, FryslânJournalists with access to leaked documents have reported on the partnerships and activities undertaken by Canada’s foreign signals intelligence (SIGINT) agency, the Communications Security Establishment (CSE), since October 2013. As a result of their stories we know that the Canadian government hosts collection facilities in its diplomatic outposts for American SIGINT operations, has co-ordinated with the NSA to monitor for threats to international summits that took place in Canada, and shares a cooperative relationship with the National Security Agency (NSA) to protect North America from foreign threats. CSE, itself, was found to be conducting signals intelligence and development operations against the Brazilian government, running experiments using domestically collected metadata to track Canadians’ devices, and automating both the discovery of vulnerable computer devices on the Internet for later exploitation and identifying network administrators’ Internet traffic.

The aforementioned revelations are just a sample of what Canadians have learned as journalists have reported on documents leaked to them by Edward Snowden and other whistleblowers. But it has been challenging for even experts to keep track of the Canadian discoveries amongst the tidal wave of information concerning American and British SIGINT agencies. I have created and published a resource to help researchers and members of the public alike track mentions of CSE in documents that have been reported on by professional journalists.

The Canadian SIGINT Summaries page of this website currently includes downloadable copies, along with summary, publication, and original source information, of leaked CSE documents. The page will be updated  as new whistleblower documents are released and as I parse and add information about CSE’s operational guides that have been released to the public under Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) laws. I plan to also include copies of the CSE Commissioner’s reports. While I will try to exhaustively collate documents it is entirely possible that I have, or will, miss some; if you believe I have failed to include a primary document and would like me to add it to the SIGINT Summaries page please contact me with the document and a link to the journalistic source which reported on it.

The Canadian SIGINT Summaries are not meant to replace the detailed reporting of documents nor the exhaustive examination of them by other researchers, scholars, or other analysts. And I expect to write more extensive analyses based upon the documents that extend beyond my summarizations of them. The Canadian SIGINT Summaries are meant as a public resource, listing all of the relevant public documents, briefly describing their contents and publication data, and letting readers download them to draw their own conclusions.

As I update the page with new items or sections I will publish blog posts which either include the item (if just one or two are added) or short summaries when larger updates are published. I hope that you find the Canadian SIGINT Summaries helpful and, for international visitors, encourage you to replicate this model to summarize information about your own domestic SIGINT agency.