Australians continue to lobby as Julian Assange awaits extradition ruling

Supporters of Julian Assange have gathered in Sydney and London as the WikiLeaks founder awaits a decision on his extradition to the United States.

Assange faces a wait to see whether his final bid to appeal against the removal is successful, following a two-day hearing in the United Kingdom.

Hundreds of people attended rallies outside the High Court as his case was heard, while smaller groups gathered across Australian cities.

The US is seeking to prosecute Assange on espionage charges following WikiLeaks’ publication of thousands of classified military and diplomatic documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars more than a decade go.

Assange has been detained in Belmarsh, a high-security prison in the UK, since 2019.

Adviser to the Australian Assange campaign and barrister Greg Barns SC said extradition to the US could be a death sentence.

“If he went to the United States, given the way in which prisoners are treated, he could die,” he said on Thursday.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said his government was in regular contact with the US and the UK about Assange’s case.

“Enough is enough … there is nothing to be served by the ongoing incarceration of Mr Assange and he should be allowed to come home,” he said.

Military lawyer and whistleblower David McBride was among about a dozen people who held a vigil outside the Prime Minister’s office.

He warned of Assange’s ailing health and called for urgent action.

“If he dies, and that’s quite likely now, it could be the end of the US empire because the world will see how completely sinister they are,” McBride said.

“Albo knows this is an absolute travesty, even though he’s scared electorally that the vast majority of Australians will be very upset if Assange dies or if he goes to the US.

“Despite all that he is powerless to do anything except squirm a bit and make a few mealy-mouthed sayings.”

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie travelled to London to support Assange’s case.

His motion in the House of Representatives, which called on the UK and the US governments to bring the matter to an end, was overwhelmingly supported by parliamentarians, including Albanese.

Wilkie said he hoped the UK’s High Court would grant Assange the right to appeal against his extradition.

“Many millions of people around the world say enough is enough,” he said.

“The US must not continue to pursue Mr Assange, but instead drop all charges against Mr Assange, allow him to reunite with his family and to return to Australia.”

Assange’s legal team argued he faced the risk of a denial of justice if tried in the US.

In 2012, Assange took refuge in Ecuador’s embassy in London and was granted political asylum that year.

He remained in the embassy until 2019 when Ecuador revoked his political asylum.

That same year, the US Justice Department requested the UK extradite Assange to their country to face charges he conspired to hack government computers and violated an espionage law.


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