Australian government falls in behind Julian Assange

Photo by Mick Tsikas/AAP: Julian Assange supporters hold banner outside Australasia's Federal Parliament

Contributed by Joe Montero

The battle for freedom by WikiLeaks founder Jullian Assange and his supporters has been a long one. The journey over the 14 years of his incarceration has gone through many twists and turns. But it hasn’t been fruitless. Public support for Jilian’s freedom has grown. Most Australians now agree that he must be freed immediately. Australia wants its government to be decisive on this. Australia wants a sharp message to b delivered to the president of the Unite States and the British Prime Minister.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese had once hailed Assange as a hero. After becoming the head of the government changed his tune. By 2022, however, he had returned to say, ‘enough is enough.” He and his government took a new turn on Wednesday last week. They supported the motion tabled by independent MP Andrew Wilkes in the federal parliament. The motion called for a stronger message to the US ambassador, State Department, and the White House. It explicitly called for an end to the extradition.

Julian Assange

This is a significant shift, which puts considerable pressure on both the United Sates and British governments. It does so with political pressure. Australia might be a small player on the world stage. Making the call still casts a shadow over the democratic credentials of these two governments.

The evidence is that the world is overwhelmingly on Julian’s side. Washington’s image is considerably tarnished at this time. It’s brutal hunt for this internationally acclaimed journalist and publisher doesn’t look good. The stance now taken by the Australian government now makes this more problematic. Even more so when a Presidential election is coming in November.

Let’s not forget. Wilke’s motion was supported by the greens, independents, and members of the Coalition who crossed the floor. Other members of the Coalition opted to stay away so as not to vote against it. The motion was carried 86 to 42.

To its shame, the diminished Coalition took the position that Assange had committed a crime. Its leader Peter Dutton claimed that exposing secret information is still a crime that must be punished. His only issue is that the process has been too slow.

Yes, the case has dragged on. Julian has been in detention under solitary confinement for just over 14 years. His has suffered this without charge or having his case determined in a court. He has been denied his legal rights; banned from being present in person at his own appeal hearings. He has been restricted on contact with his legal team, and denial of the right to cross examine hostile witnesses. What sort of hearing is it when the judge refuses to allow evidence to be tabled? A quirk of British law means that the judge doesn’t have to hear an appeal.

The timing of the Wilke’s motion is perfect. Tomorrow (20 February) begins a new two-day hearing in London. It will hear an application to secure the right for a new appeal. The grounds involve claims that previous appeals have not accorded with the law. This includes the decision Judge Vanessa Baraitser, who left the door open for the extradition to proceed. The Brish court system is under pressure. The government led by Rishi Sunak totters form one crisis to another and Faces a routing at the next election. It can’t afford any more stumbles.

There is a good chance that the circumstances will work towards Julians favour. Still, there are no guarantees.

If the injustice continues, it will do so on a weaker foundation. The campaign to win his freedom will continue on a higher level, until victory has been won.

Julian Assange’s future is at stake. And there is more to it. The persecution is not just aimed at the individual. Washington’s intent to is to set a precedent. This is to victimise others who say what is inconvenient to those with power in Washington.

This is an escalation of the part of the 1823 Munro Doctrine that gives the United States the right to intervene anywhere in the world to pursue its believed interests.

The current interpretation from Washington asserts that American law supersedes all other law across the planet, and this includes the concept of American Exceptionalism, meaning the belief that United Sates superiority in politics, ideology, and civilisation, provides the right to impose its will on the world.

American Exceptionalism is inherently antidemocratic, and a threat to the basic rights of all people, including those living in Australia.

Vigils and other public actions are taking place around the world and across Australia, to demand the British court releases Julian Assange.

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