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Australian Politicians Call on President Biden to Drop the Charges Against Julian Assange

30 June 2021

MPs and Senators urge the US Government to revoke its appeal of the UK judgement against extradition

In a video message to the US President Joe Biden, 11 Australian politicians from across the political spectrum have appealed to the US Government to drop its Espionage Act charges against Australian citizen, Julian Assange.

The MPs and Senators have urged President Biden to take the “opportunity for urgent reconsideration”, following a UK court’s decision to deny the US extradition request, rendered earlier this year.

Julian Assange is currently held in HMP Belmarsh, a high security London prison, pending a High Court ruling on whether the US may appeal against the UK refusal to extradite. He is detained for publishing activity that won him Australia’s highest journalistic honour, the Walkley Award for most Outstanding Contribution to Journalism.

The Australian politicians warn that Assange’s prosecution threatens journalists worldwide.

Susan Templeman, MP, Australian Labor Party (ALP) said: “Citizens expect us to protect journalists and publishers, not to imprison them for their work”.

Senator Carol Brown ALP added: “The world’s leading human rights and press freedom groups are unequivocally denouncing the charges against [Julian Assange]. And we join them.”

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Australian Greens, told Biden: “Australian citizens want Julian Assange to be free”

And Peter Khalil MP, ALP, noted: “Indeed, one of the largest petitions in Australia’s history, with over 600,000 signatures, has been tabled in the Australian Parliament, calling on the US to free Assange.”

Julian Hill MP, ALP, who has spoken in parliament about Assange, appeals to the UK: “We are imploring the British government to release him from prison, and send him home.”

Speakers (in order of appearance)

Andrew Wilkie MP, Independent
Julian Hill MP, Australian Labor Party (ALP)
Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens
Dr Helen Haines MP, Independent
Susan Templeman MP, ALP
Maria Vamvakinou MP, ALP
Josh Wilson MP, ALP
Senator Carol Brown, ALP
Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Australian Greens
Peter Khalil MP, ALP
George Christensen MP, Liberal National Party

Transcription:

We are Australian parliamentarians and we’re calling on the government of the United States to drop the unprecedented Espionage Act charges against Julian Assange. And we are imploring the British government to release him from prison, and send him home.

Like politicians in the US and the UK, we are elected to defend our citizens’ rights. Voters expect us to hold accountable those who commit wrongdoing, not to punish those who expose it, such as Julian Assange. Citizens expect us to protect journalists and publishers, not to imprison them for their work.

Julian Assange is right now being arbitrarily detained in the UK for publishing activity. His treatment violates the Convention against Torture and his persecution threatens journalists worldwide. The world’s leading human rights and press freedom groups are unequivocally denouncing the charges against him. And we join them.

Australian citizens want Julian Assange to be free. Indeed one of the largest petitions in Australia’s history, with over half a million signatures has been tabled in the Australian Parliament, calling on the US to free Assange.

The ruling by UK District Judge (Magistrates Court) Vanessa Baraitser on January 4 of this year to deny extradition provides the opportunity for urgent reconsideration. President Biden, we implore you, please drop the US Government’s appeal in light of the judgement rendered in the UK.