Australian Lawmakers Lobby US Officials to Drop Charges Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange

Date:

Updated: 5:27 AM, Fri September 22, 2023

An Australian delegation comprising lawmakers from various political parties visited Washington, D.C. this week to lobby the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in an attempt to halt the extradition and potential imprisonment of Julian Assange. The WikiLeaks publisher, who is also an Australian national, currently remains in a British prison and faces a possible 175-year sentence if extradited to the U.S.
The group of lawmakers, representing the Labor, Liberal, Greens, and National parties, held meetings with U.S. officials on Wednesday to advocate for the cessation of Assange’s extradition to the U.S. Australian House of Representatives member Tony Zappia expressed satisfaction with the discussions, emphasizing that they enabled the Australian representatives to clearly convey their position that the pursuit, detention, and charges against Assange should be dropped.
Assange’s charges in the U.S. stem from his publication of diplomatic cables and classified military documents on WikiLeaks. U.S. prosecutors argue that these editorial decisions endangered sources and allies, leading them to charge Assange with 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of computer misuse.
Australian Greens Senator David Shoebridge dismissed the charges against Assange, asserting that he is essentially being penalized for performing his journalistic duties. Shoebridge stated that the crime Assange is being accused of is the crime of being a journalist, highlighting the concerns shared by many politicians and members of the Australian public regarding the treatment of an Australian citizen by a close ally such as the U.S.
Lauding the united effort of his colleagues, Liberal Party Senator for South Australia Alex Antic expressed the desire to ensure Assange’s return to Australia at the earliest opportunity. Antic emphasized the significance of the joint letter signed by 67 members of the Australian Parliament, which reflects the growing support in favor of Assange’s cause. The press conference was attended by a dozen supporters of Assange, who displayed signs and wore shirts advocating for the freedom of the WikiLeaks founder.
Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s brother, addressed the media after the conference, acknowledging that the charges against Assange have strained the Australian-U.S. relationship. Given the current global political scenario, Shipton speculated that the U.S. State Department would prefer to resolve this issue, resolving the wedge it has created in the bilateral relationship. Shipton conveyed the emotional toll the ongoing extradition proceedings in the U.K. are taking on Assange but assured that family visits and phone calls help him stay resilient.
Assange has been detained in London’s Belmarsh prison since 2019 after being evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy. His extended stay in the embassy, where he sought political asylum, was prompted by a Swedish extradition request related to sex crime allegations made by two former WikiLeaks volunteers. While Sweden dropped the investigation in 2017, Assange remained in the embassy out of concern over potential U.S. prosecution.
The lawmakers’ visit to Washington, D.C. and the significance of their advocacy demonstrate the growing support across party lines in the Australian Parliament for Assange’s cause. As the extradition proceedings progress in the U.K., the global spotlight remains on the fate of the controversial publisher, with many questioning the implications of his case for freedom of the press and the nature of journalistic activities in an increasingly interconnected world.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Related to the Above News

What is the current status of Julian Assange's case?

As of today, Julian Assange is currently detained in Belmarsh prison in London, UK. He is facing several charges under the Espionage Act and one charge of computer misuse, which could result in a 175-year prison sentence if he is extradited to the United States.

Why are Australian lawmakers lobbying US officials on Julian Assange's behalf?

Australian lawmakers are lobbying US officials to drop the charges against Julian Assange because he is an Australian national and the founder of WikiLeaks, and they believe that the extradition efforts and detention of Assange should be discontinued.

What charges is Julian Assange facing?

Julian Assange is facing 17 charges under the Espionage Act and one charge of computer misuse. These charges primarily stem from WikiLeaks' publication of diplomatic cables and classified military documents.

Why do some critics believe the charges against Julian Assange are unjustified?

Some critics argue that the charges against Julian Assange are unjustified because they believe he is being penalized for his role as a journalist and for publishing classified information. They claim that he is being persecuted for his journalistic activities and for telling the truth.

What has been the response of the Australian Parliament to Julian Assange's case?

Sixty-seven members of the Australian Parliament have signed a joint letter urging for Julian Assange's release. This growing support among politicians reflects the increasing concern regarding the impact of his case on the Australian-U.S. relationship.

How does Julian Assange's family support him?

Julian Assange's family continues to visit him and maintain regular contact while he is detained in Belmarsh prison. They provide him with support during his ongoing extradition proceedings.

What are the implications of resolving Julian Assange's case for freedom of the press and diplomatic relations?

The resolution of Julian Assange's case holds significant implications for freedom of the press as it raises questions about the limits of journalistic activities and the protection of whistleblowers. It also affects the diplomatic relations between Australia and the United States, as the case has strained their bilateral relationship.

Please note that the FAQs provided on this page are based on the news article published. While we strive to provide accurate and up-to-date information, it is always recommended to consult relevant authorities or professionals before making any decisions or taking action based on the FAQs or the news article.

Siddharth Mehta
Siddharth Mehta
Siddharth Mehta is a dedicated author at The Reportify who covers the intricate world of politics. With a deep interest in current affairs and political dynamics, Siddharth provides insightful analysis, updates, and perspectives in the Politics category. He can be reached at siddharth@thereportify.com for any inquiries or further information.

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