Delegation of Australian Lawmakers Will Visit U.S. to Push for Julian Assange’s Release: A Powerful Message
In a remarkable display of cross-party unity, a delegation of Australian politicians embarked on a mission to Washington, D.C. Their mission: to advocate for the release of Julian Assange, the controversial founder of WikiLeaks, who is facing prosecution in the United States for publishing classified military documents. The delegation’s visit sends a powerful message, transcending political divides and emphasizing the global significance of Assange’s case.
A Diverse Delegation with a Common Cause
The delegation of Australian lawmakers comprises prominent figures from various political backgrounds. Former Deputy Prime Minister and National Party Leader Barnaby Joyce, Labor Party member of parliament Tony Zappia, Independent member of parliament Monique Ryan, Liberal Party member of parliament Alex Antic, Greens Party member of parliament Peter Whish-Wilson, and Greens Party Senator David Shoebridge came together to champion Assange’s cause. Adding emotional weight to the delegation, Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, also joined the group for their meetings with U.S. officials.
A Plea Supported by Many
Central to the delegation’s mission was a letter signed by over 60 members of the Australian parliament, urging the U.S. government to drop charges against Julian Assange. Currently, Assange is battling extradition to the U.S., where he faces a daunting maximum sentence of 175 years in a high-security prison. He confronts multiple charges, including the alleged receipt, possession, and communication of classified information to the public under the Espionage Act, along with a conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge.
Optimism and Persistence
During a press conference held outside the Justice Department, members of the delegation expressed optimism that a resolution could be reached with the U.S. authorities to secure Assange’s freedom. Nevertheless, they emphasized their unwavering commitment to maintain pressure until the prosecution concludes.
Support from the Top
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has consistently spoken out against the U.S. prosecution of Julian Assange. He is expected to raise Assange’s case during his upcoming visit to the U.S., where he is scheduled to meet with President Biden in late October.
Unprecedented Charges with Global Implications
The charges against Assange are rooted in the 2010 publication of cables leaked by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. These cables exposed alleged war crimes, torture, and renditions carried out by the U.S. government in locations such as Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Notably, Assange is the sole journalist facing prosecution for publishing material that major news outlets like The Guardian, The New York Times, Le Monde, Der Spiegel, and El País also published.
The Voice of the People
The Australian politicians emphasized the overwhelming public sentiment in their country, with nearly 90% of Australians believing that the charges against Assange should be dropped. They underscored the importance of conveying this sentiment to U.S. representatives, including the Department of Justice and the State Department, and politicians. The delegation expressed concerns that people may not fully comprehend the nature of the charges against Assange.
A Shifting Political Landscape
In 2010, the Obama administration chose not to indict Assange, as doing so would have required indicting journalists from major news outlets. However, the Trump administration’s Justice Department later pursued Assange’s indictment under the Espionage Act, a course that the Biden administration has continued.
Years in Detention
Assange has been detained at London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison since his removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2019. He had sought asylum in the Embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault, which were eventually dropped. Unfortunately, the delegation’s attempt to visit Assange at Belmarsh was denied access.
A Unifying Cause
Julian Assange’s case has brought together individuals from across the political spectrum, ranging from libertarians to social justice campaigners. Many view Assange’s prosecution as a direct attack on journalism and the freedom of the press. The delegation underlined the case’s significance, mainly because a close ally like the United States is targeting an Australian citizen.
WikiLeaks’ Global Impact
It’s important to note that Assange’s organization, WikiLeaks, has had a profound impact on global politics. In 2016, they published internal communications between the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign, revealing attempts to boost Clinton in the Democratic primary.
In conclusion, the visit of this cross-party delegation of Australian lawmakers to the United States sends a powerful message about the importance of upholding the principles of press freedom and the pursuit of justice. Their unwavering commitment to advocating for Julian Assange’s release reflects this high-profile case’s global attention and significance.