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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
    FAIR
    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.
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A resolution campaign is being launched across the labour movement in solidarity with Assange

03. 06. 2020

A new call for solidarity with Julian Assange has been issued as his extradition hearing is set to resume in September. Following motions in support of Assange at Birmingham TUC and from the National Union of Journalists a resolution campaign is being launched across the labour movement. The comprehensive resolution adopted by the NUJ is to be circulated for other trade unions, Labour Party bodies, and campaign organisations to adapt for thier own use.  

‘Please put this resolution to your next meeting’, said John Rees from the Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign, ‘this is the defining free speech case of the 21st century. Freedom of information, free from government censorship, is the lifeblood of an effective labour movement. The NUJ have made a stand. Follow their example’.

The NUJ resolution is reproduced in full below and can be found here.

Please adapt it as required for your own organisation and let us know when it passes at: office@dontextraditeassange.com

Here are four other useful campaigning tools. 
Our petition: https://www.change.org/p/release-julian-assange-from-belmarsh-prison-before-covid-19-spreads
Write to your MP: https://dontextraditeassange.com/mp 
Donate: https://dontextraditeassange.com/donate
For the full breadth of support for Julian Assange: https://dontextraditeassange.com/statements




National Union of Journalists’ resolution 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.

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.

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

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.

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Scott Ludlam’s email to Senator Payne

From: scottludlam <xxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.com>
Date: Wed, May 27, 2020 at 5:29 PM
Subject: correspondence relating to Julian Assange court appearance
To: senator.payne@aph.gov.au <senator.payne@aph.gov.au>,
foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au <foreign.minister@dfat.gov.au>

Dear Minister Payne,

I have been invited to convey the attached four pieces of correspondence
for your urgent review and response. The undersigned represent a
cross party alliance of serving and former MPs, a cross-section of the
Australian legal profession, diverse human rights advocates and a large
number of writers, publishers and journalists.

In a matter of only a few days, Julian Assange will face court again in
the UK. As detailed in the letters, we seek your urgent intercession in
this matter while there is still time.

Physical copies will be delivered to your office shortly; in the
meantime I would appreciate acknowledgement of receipt of these
electronic copies.

In trust,

Scott Ludlam

Former Senator for Western Australia

+61XXXXXXXXX

Attachments:

PDFs: