Australian Prime Minister: Enough is enough; time Assange is brought home

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Anthony Albanese, the Australian Prime Minister, has called for the immediate release of Julian Assange, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks, who has been detained in the UK for more than four years. Albanese said that Assange’s extradition to the US on espionage charges would be a grave injustice and a violation of his human rights.

He urged the UK government to respect the decision of a British court that ruled against Assange’s extradition in 2021, on the grounds that he was at high risk of suicide in the US prison system.

Albanese said that Australia had a moral obligation to protect one of its citizens, who had exposed US war crimes and corruption through WikiLeaks. He said that Assange had paid a heavy price for his courage and that he deserved to be reunited with his family in Australia. He also said that Australia would offer Assange consular assistance and legal support, and that he would personally raise the issue with US President Kamala Harris.

Albanese’s statement came after a global campaign by Assange’s supporters, who staged protests and rallies in several cities around the world, demanding his freedom. They also launched a petition that gathered over a million signatures, calling on the Australian government to intervene on Assange’s behalf.

Assange’s case has been a source of controversy and debate for over a decade, since WikiLeaks published thousands of classified documents from US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010. These included a video of a US helicopter attack in Baghdad that killed civilians, US diplomatic cables that revealed the inner workings of US foreign policy, and US military logs from the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The US government accused Assange of endangering national security and the lives of informants, and charged him with 18 counts of violating the Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. If convicted, he could face up to 175 years in prison.

Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012, fearing extradition to the US via Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning over sexual assault allegations. He was granted asylum by Ecuador, but his relations with the embassy staff deteriorated over time. In 2019, his asylum was revoked and he was arrested by British police.

Since then, he has been held in Belmarsh prison, a high-security facility that has been described as “Britain’s Guantanamo Bay”. He has suffered from physical and mental health problems, and has been denied adequate medical care, according to his lawyers and human rights groups.

Assange’s fate now depends on the outcome of the US appeal, which is expected to be heard by the UK High Court later this year. His supporters hope that the Australian government’s intervention will help secure his release and prevent his extradition to the US.

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