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Julian Assange: what’s Australia’s place on his extradition, and what choices does it have? | Julian Assange


Australia’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, has mentioned he stands by his earlier feedback opposing the continuing pursuit of the WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.

But when requested on Monday whether or not he had spoken with Joe Biden concerning the US push to extradite Assange from the UK, Albanese indicated he would pursue the difficulty out of the general public glare. The US is searching for to attempt Assange in reference to the publication of lots of of hundreds of leaked paperwork concerning the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, in addition to diplomatic cables.

So what’s the new Australian authorities’s place? What choices does it have? And what are the following steps within the authorized course of?

What has he mentioned previously about Assange?

Albanese informed ABC Radio Northern Tasmania on 15 December:

Well, I’ve mentioned for a while that sufficient is sufficient. The reality is that you’ve the circumstances whereby the one who has really leaked the labeled info to WikiLeaks is free, is strolling round, isn’t incarcerated. But the one who revealed that info stays in jail in Britain awaiting the extradition procedures that the United States is going down.

That was a reference to the previous military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, who was launched in 2017 when Barack Obama commuted her 35-year navy jail sentence in considered one of his closing acts as president. Albanese went on to say that Assange had “paid a big price for the publication of that information already”:

I don’t see what function is served by the continuing pursuit of Mr Assange. He is an Australian citizen as effectively. And with that ought to come an obligation of the Australian authorities to make sure that he receives acceptable help.

In April Assange’s father, John Shipton, mentioned the election of a Labor authorities can be a “great opportunity” to free the WikiLeaks co-founder. Shipton mentioned he had had a number of lunches with Albanese and had been assured the then opposition chief would do “whatever he can” to free his son.

What did Albanese say on Monday?

Speaking to reporters in Melbourne, the prime minister reaffirmed his beforehand said place, whereas suggesting that he wouldn’t take a extra forthright public place.

“I have made clear what my position is publicly,” he mentioned. “I made it clear last year. I stand by my comments that I made then.

“But I make this point as well – there are some people who think that if you put things in capital letters on Twitter and put an exclamation mark, then that somehow makes it more important. It doesn’t.

“I intend to lead a government that engages diplomatically and appropriately with our partners.”

Why are press freedom teams nervous about this case?

Press freedom advocates and human rights teams have raised fears the prosecution of Assange below the US Espionage Act units “a dangerous precedent”.

Daniel Ellsberg – the whistleblower prosecuted 50 years in the past for releasing the Pentagon Papers concerning the Vietnam warfare – has mentioned: “This extradition would mean that journalists, anywhere in the world, could be extradited to the US for exposing information classified in the US.”

What’s occurring with the authorized course of?

In April a UK court docket formally permitted the extradition of Assange to the US on espionage prices however it was as much as the house secretary, Priti Patel, to log out.

On Friday the UK Home Office introduced that Patel had permitted the extradition, saying the UK courts had “not found that it would be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange”.

“Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the US he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health,” a Home Office spokesperson mentioned.

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WikiLeaks instantly introduced that the choice can be appealed (the Home Office mentioned Assange “retains the normal 14-day right to appeal”). Any enchantment was prone to give attention to grounds akin to the fitting to freedom of expression and whether or not the extradition request was politically motivated.

How did the federal government’s response differ from the earlier authorities’s stance?

The international affairs minister, Penny Wong, and the legal professional common, Mark Dreyfus, responded to Patel’s resolution by observing that Australia was “not a party to Mr Assange’s case, nor can the Australian government intervene in the legal matters of another country”.

But they mentioned they deliberate to “continue to convey our expectations that Mr Assange is entitled to due process, humane and fair treatment, access to proper medical care, and access to his legal team”. This is an analogous place to what the previous Australian authorities repeatedly mentioned in public.

But there was a important addition to the assertion alluding to new overarching representations to the US and the UK: “The Australian government has been clear in our view that Mr Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and that it should be brought to a close. We will continue to express this view to the governments of the United Kingdom and United States.”

What choices does the federal government should intervene?

The solely actual choice for the Australian authorities is to vigorously pursue this situation at a political degree.

The authorities has not elaborated precisely what it means by bringing the matter to a detailed. One choice can be to encourage the US to drop the costs. The Biden administration has beforehand mentioned this can be a matter for the Department of Justice, which it says acts independently.

Another choice can be to encourage the US president to situation a pardon to Assange. If Assange have been to be extradited and convicted and sentenced, Australia might additionally foyer for the sentence to be commuted, in an analogous method to Manning’s sentence.

Ultimately, this can be a query of how a lot political capital Albanese needs to make use of.

One of Assange’s most vocal advocates, the impartial MP Andrew Wilkie, thinks the time for quiet diplomacy is over and the federal government ought to “call an end to this madness”.

“I think if Anthony Albanese made an unambiguous and strong public comment in support of Julian Assange I think that would be helpful at this point in time,” Wilkie informed Sky News on Monday. He acknowledged the brand new authorities’s modified tone as “good” however mentioned “it hasn’t amounted to anything” as a result of Patel had signed off on the extradition.

The former international minister Bob Carr has argued that Australia has been an “exemplary ally” to the US and this could rely for one thing. Carr additionally factors to the Howard authorities’s success in 2007 – after years of mounting calls to behave – in securing the return of the previous Guantánamo Bay inmate David Hicks to serve out the rest of his sentence in Australia.

Could Assange serve any sentence in Australia?

The US has already supplied this. It was amongst quite a lot of assurances that have been essential to a profitable US enchantment towards an earlier British court docket ruling blocking Assange’s extradition.

These assurances included that Assange wouldn’t be topic to “special administrative measures” or held at a most safety “ADX” facility and will apply, if convicted, to be transferred to a jail in Australia.



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