A cross-party delegation of Australian lawmakers had met U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy urging her to help drop the pending extradition case against WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange and allow him to return to Australia.
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The “Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group” said it had informed the U.S. envoy of “the widespread concern in Australia” about the continued detention of Assange.
“There are a range of views about Assange in the Australian community and the members of the Parliamentary Group reflect that diversity of views. But what is not in dispute in the Group is that Mr Assange is being treated unjustly,” the lawmakers said in a statement after meeting Kennedy in Canberra.
Assange, an Australian citizen, is fighting extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States, where he is wanted on criminal charges related to the 2010 publication of classified US military records and diplomatic correspondence. The public release of the materials, according to Washington, has put people’s lives in jeopardy.
Dear USA Government. The longer you persist in holding Julian Assange the more foolish you look. Everyone knows why you are illegally holding him and demanding his extradition. In view of your demanding the release of Evan Gershkovich whilst at the same timer incarcerating… pic.twitter.com/f4wHGj3vBI
— Michael Moore (@allaboutgold) May 7, 2023
According to Assange’s supporters, he is an anti-establishment hero who has been persecuted because he exposed U.S. malfeasance, notably in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In a tweet, the U.S. embassy in Australia confirmed the meeting but provided no other details.
Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, told Reuters he felt the meeting was an “important acknowledgement” by the U.S. government that “Julian’s freedom is important to millions of Australians”.
“After Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed frustration with the Biden administration, this is now a test for Ambassador Kennedy to see if she can move Washington on this issue,” he said.
Albanese, who has been campaigning for Assange’s release, expressed frustration last week about the lack of a diplomatic solution to the matter.
Policymakers in the United States continue to oppose Assange. Only a few members of Congress have spoken out in favor of dropping the accusations against him.
If extradited, Assange faces a maximum-security jail sentence of up to 175 years.
After participating in the recent King Charles III coronation in London, Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva criticized the lack of concerted attempts to free Assange, who has been held in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison for four years.
Brazil's Lula calls for a worldwide press movement to free Julian Assange🔥pic.twitter.com/iT0QbfVidA
— sarah (@sahouraxo) May 7, 2023
“It is an embarrassment that a journalist who denounced trickery by one state against another is arrested, condemned to die in jail and we do nothing to free him. It’s a crazy thing,” Lula told reporters. “We talk about freedom of expression; the guy is in prison because he denounced wrongdoing. And the press doesn’t do anything in defense of this journalist. I can’t understand it.”