Australian Parliament Calls For Return Of Julian Assange

Julian Assange

Call for the UK and US to return Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who remains in Belmarsh prison amid US extradition appeal

The Australian Parliament has made an intervention over Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, ahead of an appeal hearing in his extradition case at the High Court in London.

Sky News reported that Australia’s parliament this week has passed a motion calling for the return of Julian Assange to Australia.

The country’s prime minister Anthony Albanese, who was one of 86 MPs to vote in favour of the call (against 42 who opposed), reportedly said he hoped the case could be “resolved amicably.”

Leaked documents

Assange is wanted by the US Justice Department, which has accused him of violating the Espionage Act, after he received top secret data (from Chelsea Manning) and unlawfully published the names of classified sources back in 2010 and 2011.

He is wanted in America over an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defence information following the publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

Assange denies any wrongdoing, but faces potentially 175 years in prison.

Assange has been held in London’s Belmarsh prison since his arrest in April 2019 after leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had claimed political asylum in June 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.

The Swedish investigation was dropped in 2019.

Extradition battle

Since then Assange has been fighting against attempts by the United States to extradite him to the US.

His resistance seem to have paid off in January 2021, when District Judge Vanessa Baraitser in London had blocked the US extradition request because of concerns over Assange’s mental health and risk of suicide in America.

But in August 2021, Assange lost a legal battle to stop the US appeal, after a British judge ruled the United States could expand its extradition case against the Wikileaks co-founder.

Then in October 2021 lawyers for the US told the High Court that the judge who had blocked Julian Assange’s extradition in January, had been misled by his psychiatrist.

Senior judges found that the district judge had based the extradition refusal ruling on the risk of Assange being held in highly restrictive prison conditions if extradited.

The judges however sided with the US authorities after a package of assurances were put forward that Assange would not face those strictest measures, either pre-trial or post-conviction unless he committed an act in the future that required them.

The High Court in December 2021 then ruled Julian Assange could be extradited to the US, with Assange’s legal team stating an appeal would begin immediately.

uk high court

Last chance?

Now Assange is slated to appear in a two-day hearing next week, that will determine whether he can continue to argue his case in the UK courts, or if he has exhausted all of his appeals in this country, and will be extradited to the US.

Assange’s wife Stella Assange (formerly Morris) told a media briefing ahead of his final appeal next week that her husband, 52, “will die” if he is extradited to the US and could be on a plane “within days.”

Ms Assange, who has two children with Assange was quoted by Sky News as saying “The situation is extremely grave. He could be on a plane within days.”

“His health is in decline, mentally and physically. His life is at risk every single day he stays in prison, and if he’s extradited, he will die,” she reportedly said. “But it’s not just about being extradited. Julian should never have been put in prison in the first place.”

She said her husband will apply to the European Court of Human Rights if he loses the appeal.

There have been ongoing worries over the health of Assange, which has even seen supporter and former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson warn that the health of Assange is causing concern.

She said that said that his life “was at risk” and he is “unhealthy” in captivity.