Local councils across Australia call for Assange to be freed. Councils in the UK should follow their lead…

In recent months local councils across Australia have called for the release of Julian Assange so that the WikiLeaks founder no longer has to face extradition to the US where he could face 175 years in jail for revealing the truth about the Afghan and Iraq wars.

Murad Qureshi from the Greater London Authority (GLA) said, ‘this is a great initiative by local councils in Australia. I hope UK local authorities follow suit in the fight to defend free speech’.

Council’s in Melbourne City, Victoria, Moreland, Victoria, the City of Fremantle, Western Australia, Byron Bay, New South Wales (NSW), Lismore (NSW), Yarra, Victoria, and Darebin, Victoria, have all added their voices to the new wave of protest.

Campaigners are asking that local authorities around the world, especially those twinned with Australian towns and cities, and those in the UK where Assange is held, also put their weight behind the new push to free Assange.

The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign is circulation a model motion based on the Melbourne City councils successful resolution to help local councillors in the UK get their authorities on board.

This Council:

  1. Reasserts its staunch support for Freedom of the
    Press and the Rule of Law and the extension of both to all people.

  2. Notes that WikiLeaks has played an important and effective role in disclosing war crimes, corporate fraud, environmental damage and other criminal abuses.

  3. Notes that Mr Assange is currently being held on remand in HMP Belmarsh  without charge, locked in a cell for 23 hours per day.

  4. Notes that Mr Assange is now in very poor health and is facing extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States of America (USA) in an unprecedented Espionage Act prosecution for engaging in journalistic activity and, if convicted, faces 175 years imprisonment and potentially the death penalty.

  5. Notes that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for Mr Assange’s immediate release and that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, has examined Mr Assange in Belmarsh Prison and believes that his life is in danger.

  6. Notes and supports Amnesty International’s call for the UK to not extradite Mr Assange to the USA and that the UK abide by its obligations under international human rights law that forbids the transfer of individuals to another country where they would face serious human rights violations.

  7. Notes that other major civil liberties, media freedom and human
    rights groups have spoken out against the arrest and treatment of Julian Assange and include:

    The International BAR Association of Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI)
    The European Council
    The Australian Federal Parliamentary Group headed by Mr Andrew Wilkie
    The Federal Parliament of Catalonia
    The Federal Parliament of Austria
    The former Foreign Minister of Germany
    The Mexican Prime Minister
    A Doctors Group of over 150 German Doctors
    The 130 Prominent Germans Group
    Many international Lawyers Groups
    Teachers Groups in Melbourne and Sydney
    Writers and Journalist Groups
    PEN International
    City Councils including Geneva, Yarra, Darebin, Moreland and Byron Shire
    Freedom of the Press Foundation
    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
    Reporters Without Borders
    Human Rights Watch (HRW)
    Australian Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance (MEAA)
    Blueprint for Free Speech
    Center for Constitutional Rights
    Media Watch
    Code Pink
    Cage UK
    Human Rights Law Centre (Australia)
    Digital Rights Watch (Australia)
    IFEX (global network of organisations that promote and defend the right
    to freedom of expression and information)
    Fair Trials (global criminal justice watchdog)
    Freedom of the Press Foundation
    Electronic Frontier Foundation
    The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ)
    The New Yorker
    International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR)
    A global petition compiled of approximately 400,000 signatures

  8. Requests that the Council’s officers write to the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary forthwith requesting that they immediately intervene in this matter to ensure that the appropriate authorities urgently address Mr Assange’s poor health and mistreatment.

  9. Issue a public statement of the above points for dissemination through its regular media channels advising of the council’s position and inform’s MPs of the same.

Human Rights Advocates

Senator the Hon Marise Payne,
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6100
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

PO Box 5317
NSW 2550

27 May 2020

Dear Minister,

We the undersigned representatives of Australian human rights, digital rights and civil society organisations are calling for your urgent intervention on behalf of Mr Julian Assange.

Mr Assange and his colleagues at WikiLeaks helped extend the power of investigative journalism and truth-telling into the digital age, exposing war crimes and human rights abuses to public view. As a result, he has paid a heavy penalty.

In May 2019, Professor Nils Melzer, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture declared that Mr Assange had been “exposed to persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy, and from deliberate collective ridicule, insults and humiliation, to open instigation of violence and even repeated calls for his assassination.” He stated that Mr Assange shows the symptoms of an individual subjected to torture.

Professor Melzer’s review was undertaken well before the global pandemic, which has severely disrupted the UK’s prison and judicial systems. Since then, the situation has deteriorated gravely, with remand prisoners now subjected to effective solitary confinement.

The Australian government should be willing to intervene to protect the lives of Australians caught up in legal processes in foreign countries, where those proceedings violate international law.

Before the court reconvenes on 1 June, we request of you the following:

1. To make representation on Mr Assange’s behalf that he be released on bail immediately;
2. To relay to us the outcome of this representation.

Mr Assange is a publisher, a father and an Australian citizen. It is time he had the support of his Government.

We await your response,

yours sincerely,

Suelette Dreyfus, Blueprint for Free Speech
Stuart Rees, Sydney Peace Foundation
George Newhouse, National Justice Project
Lizzie O’Shea, Digital Rights Watch
Victorian Council for Civil Liberties (Liberty Victoria)
Nicholas Cowdery AO QC,President, New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties
Valerie Joy, Alternatives to Violence Queensland
Christine McKenzie, PEN Melbourne
Margaret Pestorius, Australian Nonviolence Projects
Margaret Pestorius, Australian Nonviolence Projects
Cate Adams, Wage Peace
Dr Sue Wareham OAM, Medical Association for the Prevention of War
Paul Barratt AO, Australians for War Powers Reform
Tony Kevin, Canberra
Stanley Koulouris, Unions Australia, Sydney.
Dr K.H. Sievers, Australian Voice
Ian Rose, Support Assange & WikiLeaks Coalition (Sydney Aus)
Lorese Vera, Convenor, Canberra Action 4 Assange.
Tristan Sykes Convenor, Free Assange Hobart
Clare Smith, Adelaide support group for Assange
Margaret Grace Richardson, Founder – Julian Assange Supporters Alice Springs
Sean O’Reilly, Brisbane Assange Action Brisbane Queensland
Rod Lemin, Brisbane Assange Action Brisbane Queensland
Paul Oboohov, Socialist Alliance, Canberra Branch
Melbourne Activist Legal Support (MALS)
Raine Sinclair, Melbourne4WikiLeaks
Tom Cooper, Melbourne4WikiLeaks
Lorine Anita Brice, Melbourne4WikiLeaks
Kate Hecimovic, Melbourne4WikiLeaks
Joe Lorback, Solidarity Sound System
Danielle Wood, People For Assange
Mitchell Duirs, Perth 4 Assange, WA
Walter Mellado, Australians For Assange
Amelia Ryan, Australians For Assange
Dianne Andary, Australians For Assange
Desmond McMillan, Australians For Assange
Phillip Adams, Australians For Assange
Camillo De Luca, Australians For Assange
Rosemary Gower, Riverland Support Group for Julian Assange’s Freedom Jean Lee, Adelaide Friends of Wikileaks

Press Release

National Union of Journalists (UK) issues resolution on Assange extradition case


National Union of Journalists issues resolution on Assange extradition case

The union’s executive passed a comprehensive motion last Friday demanding that Assange should not be sent to the US where he could face 175 years for revealing information about the Iraq and Afghan wars.

Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison since he was committed for extradition by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The union is now writing to the Home Secretary, the Shadow Home Secretary, and the Shadow Justice Minister encouraging them to take action on the Assange case.

The Don’t Extradite Assange campaign said: ‘this is an important development which gives the lie to the US governments argument that Julian Assange is not a journalist. It also provides an important initiative that other trade unionists can rally behind’. 

The full text of the motion is as follows.

This executive notes:
1. That Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is held in Belmarsh prison awaiting United States extradition proceedings, a process that can take many years.

2. If Assange is successfully prosecuted in the US he faces 175 years in prison.

3. That the extraterritorial application of the Espionage Act in the indictment of Assange criminalises journalistic activities, in this case activities carried out on UK soil by a non-US national, in collaboration with numerous UK media (including The Guardian, Channel 4 and The Telegraph).

4. That previous statements by the General Secretary of the NUJ, by the Australian Journalists Union MEAA, and by the International Federation of Journalists’ organisations have supported Assange. 

5. That there is a political dimension to extraditions and that the ‘special relationship’ between the UK and US makes the extradition of Assange more likely to go ahead.

This executive believes:
1. That Assange’s indictment comes at a time of heightened threats to the press in Western countries in the form of raids on newspapers and broadcasters, government claims that the press are ‘the enemy of the people’, and actual prosecutions involving life-long sentences for publishing accurately.

2. That Assange’s extradition to the United States would establish a dangerous precedent with regard to the prosecution of journalists in this country under the UK Official Secrets Act given the requirement for the UK courts to accept US arguments as to dual criminality for the extradition to go ahead. 

3. That press freedoms in this country will be weakened if the courts accept that NUJ members’ publishing activities in this country can give rise to criminal liability in foreign states and to their consequent lawful extradition.

4. That the publication of the Afghan and Iraq war logs and other material by Wikileaks that are the subject of the US indictment revealed important information that has benefitted the public.

7. Disclosing information to the public should never be equated with espionage 

This executive resolves: 
1. To campaign to stop the extradition of Julian Assange to the US.
2. To write to the Home Secretary, the Shadow Home Secretary, and the Shadow Justice Secretary making the union’s case on this issue. 

Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign
twitter, facebook: @DEAcampaign