It’s just not good enough. Anthony Albanese says he won’t conduct ‘diplomacy by megaphone’ over the decision of Britain’s Home Secretary’s decision to allow the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States. On Friday evening Australian time, Priti Patel approved sending the Australian WikiLeaks founder to face up to 175 years imprisonment for alleged treason and a death sentence for espionage.
There is good reason to ask Albanese exactly what he is going to do. The issue can’t be evaded. A group of Labor are pressing for some action. Albanese called for Assange’s release in December last year.
Is the Australia government is being pressured to sit on its hands by Washington?
Photo by Alberto Pezzali/AP
Labor MP Julian Hill said,
“There can never be a legal solution to this case. It is inherently political. Political cases should never be the subject of extradition. We should speak up for our fellow Australian and request these charges be dropped and he not be extradited.”
Opinion polls show that Australia agrees with this.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie called on Albanese to make an immediate and direct appeal to the US President and UK Prime Minister. Is this too much to ask?
Karen Percy, the federal president of the media division of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, said the potential extradition of Assange to the US was “a dangerous assault on international journalism.
“We urge the new Australian government to act on Julian Assange’s behalf and lobby for his release.”
Former leader of the National Party Barnaby Joyce has been a vocal supporter of Julian Assange and argues that the Australian government must pressure Washington to drop the case, and that a soft approach ill not be enough to secure his release.
Assange’s legal team have 2 weeks to lodge an appeal and will do this.
WikiLeaks said it would challenge the order and made the following statement.
“We’re not at the end of the road here,” said Assange’s wife, Stella Assange. “We’re going to fight this.”
Assange’s legal team will continue the fight. A new appeal at London’s High Court isa likely. Failure here will set the scene for an appeal to the United Kingdom Supreme Court. The case can be sent to the European Court of Human Rights. The United Nations has expressed concern, saying it hopes that international norms and human rights will be respected.
Patel’s order was based on a claim that “the UK courts have not found that it would be oppressive, unjust, or an abuse of process to extradite Mr Assange.”
The order went on to say,
“Nor have they found that extradition would be incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression, and that whilst in the U.S. he will be treated appropriately, including in relation to his health.”
To even entertain these conclusions, reveals the extent to which the British legal system has been compromised to meet a political agenda. Mountains of expert evidence shows that this case denies freedom of expression, is oppressive and unjust, and has had an impact on the victim’s health. The claim he will be treated appropriately in the United States is a joke.
There will be no fair trial. As has happened in United Kingdom, there will be restrictions on the right to preserve evidence, on legal representation and ability to cross examine witnesses for the prosecution. Selected officials will make the decisions. There will be no jury.
Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard said Friday that extraditing Assange “would put him at great risk and sends a chilling message to journalists the world over.”
Even if the claims made in Patel’s order were true, the possibility of 175 years imprisonment and a death sentence, which is the penalty in the United States for espionage, are way out of proportion to the alleged crimes. This should be enough on its own to stop the extradition.
It won’t be, because this is intentionally a show trial, designed to put out the warning that inconvenient disclosures will not be tolerated. The signal is that media will be muzzled. Assange is an award-winning journalist. Other journalists are being warned that the same will happen to them if they step out of line.
Here lies the weakness of Assange’s persecutors. They are afraid of public opinion.
This is a good reason why the campaign to free Assange in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, and elsewhere is so important. It can make all the difference by making it too costly for the political elite not to pull back.
Journalist organisations around the world have called on Britain to not go ahead with the extradition. More than 300 doctors from 35 countries have sent their own letter to the minister. Doctors for Assange told Patel that approving his extradition would be “medically and ethically unacceptable.” A trial in Spain is revealing evidence about the depths his enemies are prepared to lower themselves to spy on Assange, his lawyers, and family.
The United Sates, Great Britain, and Australia have cross-party parliamentary groups pressuring for Julian Assange’s freedom.
Most important of all, campaigners in all three countries, and many others, are constantly out there, involved in activities that bring the matter to the attention of the public.
The campaign will persist until justice has been won.