Independent Member for Clark, Andrew Wilkie, joined the Alliance Against Political Prosecutions to call on the Federal Government to act urgently to stop the persecution of Walkley Award winning journalist Julian Assange.
“On 20-21 February, the United Kingdom High Court will hear an application by Julian Assange on whether he is allowed to appeal his extradition to the United States,” Mr Wilkie said. “If the High Court rejects it then Julian potentially faces up to 175 years in prison over espionage and other charges. This is an Australian citizen who has endured inhumane conditions for over decade just for doing his job as a journalist and simply telling the truth. When I visited Julian in Belmarsh Prison four years ago, he was already in a terribly fragile state both mentally and physically. The extradition would amount to a death sentence.
“The political persecution of Julian Assange strikes at the very heart of media freedom, as his extradition would set a frightening precedent for all journalists that they too are at risk of being locked up, just for doing their job.
“There has been a growing chorus of support for Julian Assange in the community, and Australian politicians from all parties have agreed that he has been treated unjustly, with both Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Opposition Leader Peter Dutton saying the matter had gone on for far too long. It’s way beyond time the United States listened to these calls and abandoned the extradition proceedings.”
Co-Convenor of the Alliance Against Political Prosecutions, Marie Ryan, said the Australian Government had to persuade the US to drop the extradition.
“The prosecution of Julian Assange for publishing inconvenient truths is a massive overreach by the United States Government which threatens press freedom across the globe,” Ms Ryan said. “If next week’s last ditch hearing in London doesn’t lead to his immediate release, we call on United Kingdom Home Secretary James Cleverly to refuse extradition. The political nature of the prosecution alone gives adequate grounds for this decision.
“We hold grave concerns for Assange’s survival if extradited to the United States. Given his precarious mental and physical health, the inhumane conditions in which he will be held under the Espionage Act, for a sentence potentially of 175 years, will amount to a death sentence.”