Australian government must be stopped form colluding in denying Julian Assange his rights

Photo by Frank Augstein/Associated Press: Julian Assange

Contributed from Victoria

Although many people are calling for freedom for Julian Assange, the British government is still not listening, and the American government is trying to get its hands on him, for telling everyone about the murky illegal and criminal activity in the world of high politics and business.

His crime in their eyes, is telling us what we always had a right to know.

The Australian government has been playing a hand in this sordid business.

It happens that the Australian authorities have a duty to go in to bat for Australian citizens getting into strife in other countries. If this is how Australia applies it, it is not worth much at all.

Prime ministers, ministers and other high-ranking figures have collectively decided not to get involved. By this, the show that they are taking an active part in the persecution of and individual.

Once again, they have made clear their refusal to help the WikiLeaks founder, and not provide legal or diplomatic assistance. This is a brazen denial of as basic right Australians are supposed to enjoy.  In doing so, we must assume that the Australian government seeks to hide its collaboration and own wrongdoing.

On February 21, Foreign Minister Marise Payne, along with senior Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) officials Andrew Todd and James Larson, were questioned by two senators on Assange’s plight. The exchange occurred in the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee.

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, of the Australian Greens, described Assange as an “Australian citizen arbitrarily detained overseas.” He asked Payne and Todd about a January 29 visit by Australian officials to Assange in Ecuador’s London embassy, where the WikiLeaks publisher was granted political asylum in 2012.

Whish-Wilson asked Payne to outline “what you or your government have done to try to secure Mr Assange’s release.”

Payne responded: “We don’t necessarily agree with the premise inherent in your question. We do continue to offer him consular support, as I have just indicated. We are not in a position to interfere in his legal matters in the United Kingdom or elsewhere.”

The truth is that in cases that suit the government’s purpose there is not so much squeamishness. Take the Michele Corby and other high-profile cases. Governments can do something to ensure that their citizens are treated properly when detained in other countries.

Australia’s government has the capacity under law to challenge the application of the law and seek safe passage of Assange back to Australia. The stance of the Australian government in this case showcases its essential lack of principle.

If justice is going to eventually prevail, it is up to ordinary Australians to demand better. The campaign for Assange’s freedom must be lifted. Australia must say, we want him back home.

Public pressure forced the government into ensuring the return of David Hicks from Guantanamo Bay, and later get journalist Peter Greste out of Egypt. Recently, government intervention saw Hakeem al-Ariabi released from Thailand and not extradited to Bahrain.

Surely, Julian Assange is entitled to no less.

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