Julian Assange is an Australian citizen and whatever you think of him he does not deserve to again be abandoned by Australia. He is in maximum security at Belmarsh prison and will likely end his days in prison in the US.
The threat of extradition to Sweden and on to the US was the reason he skipped bail for a charge that has now been dropped. It turns out that Assange was right. 17 new charges have been laid by the Trump administration for espionage and computer hacking that in all, carry a sentence of 175 years. An extradition order was made by the US this will be determined by a British court in February. It has been made almost impossible for Assange to prepare his case.
The case will centre on whether this Australian citizen can be extradited for an offence that is essentially political and thus outside extradition rules, whether the US has a case given that the offence was not committed in the US and whether Assange should be afforded protection as a journalist under the US First Amendment.
The Prime Minister must intervene, just as Malcolm Turnbull did when filmmaker, James Ricketson, was imprisoned in Phnom Pen in 2017, securing his release. It’s a nonsense to say Australia can’t act and a nonsense to suggest these charges are anything other than political embarrassment and revenge.
As Assange’s lawyer, Greg Barns, reminds us: The releases included evidence of war crimes, including torture and unlawful killings, perpetrated during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the Guantanamo files, which demonstrated that the majority of men, and children, were being held and tortured at the prison, even though they were innocent of any crime.
We have a right to know about such acts and whistleblowers need our protection from those who want them hidden.