/ 20 June 2022

Assange’s extradition gets the tick

Image source: Getty
Image source: Getty

Under pressure to prevent the extradition of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange to the US, the Albanese Government says it will not participate in “diplomacy by megaphone”. MPs from across the political spectrum, the unions, and his Australian family and supporters are calling on the new federal government to appeal to decision-makers in the UK and US after the British Home Secretary Priti Patel approved Assange’s extradition. The Aussie is charged with breaching the US Espionage Act and faces up to 175 years in jail if convicted.

We’ll be short because there’s a lot… The US alleges that Assange engaged in a 2010 conspiracy with Chelsea Manning (who served 7 years in military prison before she was pardoned by President Barack Obama before he left office in 2017). It involves the leaking of more than 500,000 classified military files about the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, along with sensitive US diplomatic cables. He was also wanted in Sweden over rape allegations, and to avoid extradition, he sought protection in the Ecuadorean embassy in London in mid-2012. Sweden dropped its investigation in 2017, and a couple of years later, he was dragged from the embassy, taken into custody and sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for skipping bail. Cue 2.5 years of the legal wrangling over America’s request to have Assange sent to the US to face 18 federal counts relating to his publishing of the secret documents.

Well, the legal challenges in the UK aren’t over… Assange has 2 weeks to appeal the order from the UK Home Office – something his lawyers say they will do. His brother Gabriel Shipton said the appeal will include new information that’s not been previously considered, including claims of plots to kidnap and kill Assange from within the CIA. And his wife Stella says they will keep fighting. “We are not at the end of the road here … I’m going to use every waking hour fighting for Julian until he is free, until justice is served.” Yesterday Team Albanese frontbencher Tony Burke said the government’s view was that the case had gone on too long and that conversations are happening. “We’ve been building constructive relationships again with our allies, and they’re conversations that happen government to government,” he said.

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