Tony Zappia MP Calls for Julian’s Release in Australian Parliament

On 28th November 2023, Tony Zappia Labor MP for Makin addressed Australian Parliament calling for Julian’s immediate release. As reported in Hansard

Mr ZAPPIA  (Makin) (16:20):

Since April 2019, Julian Assange has been held in the maximum security Belmarsh prison in England as he fights extradition to the USA, where he faces multiple espionage related charges. For the seven years prior, he was confined to the Ecuadorian embassy in London. His alleged wrongdoing was publishing classified US military documents through his WikiLeaks website. Other media outlets that published the same material, including the Guardian, the New York Times and the online US Cryptome blogger, John Young, are not being pursued and never have been by the US government.

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen. His health is failing. In September, an Australian cross-party delegation, which consisted of senators David Shoebridge, Peter Whish-Wilson and Alex Antic, as well as the member for New England, Barnaby Joyce; the member for Kooyong, Dr Monique Ryan; and me, travelled to Washington to lobby for the release of Assange. In the two-day privately funded visit, the Australian delegation met with key US government officials and cross-party members of the US Congress. Subsequent to the Australian delegation’s visit, 16 cross-party members of the US Congress signed a joint letter to the US President calling for the withdrawal of the Julian Assange extradition request and a halt to the US prosecution. Countless other international human rights advocates, eminent legal persons and world leaders have also called for his release. Three-quarters of a million people have signed a petition in support of Julian Assange.

The widely held view is that Julian Assange is being punished for having embarrassed the US and US individuals. Regardless of whatever view one holds about Julian Assange, including believing he did wrong, almost five years in the high-security Belmarsh prison has been a very heavy penalty, particularly in light of Chelsea Manning, the US intelligence officer who provided the classified material to him, having had her sentence commuted in 2017. It serves no useful purpose to continue the detention and pursuit of Julian Assange. Exposing the truth should not be a crime, and the persecution of Julian Assange contradicts the very principles of freedom of speech and freedom of journalism and wider human rights that the modern world stands for. It diminishes our credibility in speaking up for the human rights of others.

In New York Harbour, since 1886, the Statue of Liberty, with its motto of ‘Liberty Enlightening the World’, has stood as a beacon of justice, freedom and hope. If the US is to remain true to those values, the case against Julian Assange must be discontinued and he should be set free. As the Prime Minister has said, enough is enough. Can I take just a moment to acknowledge the presence of Gabriel Shipton in the House with us today. He has been a tireless campaigner for the Julian Assange release.

Read original article in Hansard