Julian Assange portrait named as 2024 Archibald Finalist

On the 30th May 2024, The Australian Assange Campaign issued this press release

Shaun Gladwell, an Australian contemporary artist who works in the fields of painting, drawing, photography, moving image, performance, and extended reality, has been named as a Finalist in the Archibald Prize for his portrait of Julian Assange, titled ‘A spangled symbolist portrait of Julian Assange floating in reflection’.

Mr Gladwell describes this portrait as a protest against the political persecution, psychological torture and illegal incarceration of Julian Assange, who has deeply inspired Mr Gladwell both personally and professionally.

Through overt and covert symbolic imagery, I aim to present the inhumane conditions in which my friend has lived for 12 years, while celebrating his achievements as an investigative journalist, publisher and spokesperson for free speech,” Mr Gladwell said.

Julian Assange is a Walkley Award winning journalist and publisher, who is being held in Belmarsh Prison while the United States pursues him over the material he published in 2010 on Wikileaks, which was provided by US army whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Those publications revealed war crimes, torture, assassinations, the list of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and the US rules for air strikes.

Julian changed my world view 14 years ago. After returning from Afghanistan as Australia’s official war artist, I was deeply shocked by WikiLeaks’ 2010 video Collateral Murder,” adds Gladwell, who was an Archibald finalist in 2015 and unusually, is also a subject in this years’ Archibald exhibition in a portrait by David Griggs.

The Archibald requires at least one ‘live sitting’ with the subject – a very challenging prospect when the portrait subject is being held in a maximum-security prison in the United Kingdom. Mr Gladwell did visit Julian Assange in person in Belmarsh prison, and was further obstructed by the highly restrictive rules of prison entry, which prohibited him from bringing in any pencil, paper or any items for which he could sketch Julian.

On his visit to Belmarsh prison, Mr Gladwell says: “HMP Belmarsh didn’t allow me to bring anything except £25 for the canteen. When I was refused a pencil and paper, Julian suggested I sketch him with chocolate on a spare banknote, which I did.

“Despite the oppressive surroundings, it was wonderful to see Julian smile. He champions freedom, truth and peace. Let us now champion the freedom of this incredible human being. Julian famously states: ‘if wars can be started by lies, peace can be started by truth’. It is a deeply profound statement that he practices at all costs,” says Gladwell.

Gabriel Shipton, Julian’s brother, says of Shaun’s portrait of Julian: “It means a lot to us that Shaun has been able to draw attention to Julian’s ongoing plight through art, which we are hoping will connect strongly with people’s sense of humanity, equity and hope.

It is easy for us all to revert back into our own normal lives as time passes on, but my brother still remains imprisoned in very harsh conditions with rapidly deteriorating physical and mental health, after thirteen years. This has gone on long enough. Anthony Albanese needs to act now and with urgency to stop this extradition from occurring, by reaching a diplomatic solution whereby Julian can return home to Australia as soon as possible.”

Shaun Gladwell uses disciplines of human movement to investigate function and meaning within urban, natural, and extended reality environments. His oeuvre is considered an important contribution to the cataloguing and celebration of movement-based sub-cultures that have emerged within his generation. The artist has also been recognized for pioneering work with immersive, extended reality technologies. Gladwell contextualizes ‘the new’ by identifying parallels and patterns throughout the history of art, cultural production, and philosophy.

He represented Australia at the Venice Biennale (2009), and later that year was commissioned as Australia’s Official War Artist to work in Afghanistan alongside the ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) — a multinational military mission founded in 2001. His works are held in important museum collections including, Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, Sydney; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Museum of Fine Art, Houston; Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; Orange County Museum of Art, California; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.

Archibald Prize 2024 finalist, Shaun Gladwell ‘A spangled symbolist portrait of Julian Assange floating in reflection’, oil and aluminium flakes on canvas, 151.5 x 112 cm © the artist, image © Art Gallery of New South Wales
HMP Belmarsh didn’t allow me to bring anything except £25 for the canteen. When I was refused a pencil and paper, Julian suggested I sketch him with chocolate on a spare banknote, which I did
Shaun at work on the portrait

Editor’s Note: Julian is an untried prisoner (and hence unconvicted) under the Mandella Rules (The United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners). It is a national disgrace and diplomatic affront that an Australian Walkley awarded journalist and publisher should not be allowed a proper sitting for this event. Unconvicted prisoners are presumed to be innocent and shall be treated as such.

Parliamentarian Appeal on World Press Freedom Day

On the 3rd May 2024 the co-chairs of the Australian Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Committee Andrew Wilkie, Josh Wilson, David Shoebridge and Bridget Archer issued this press release.

The release reads:


Editor’s Note: The co-chairs of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Committee represent all of the Australian Federal Parliamentarians who want to see Julian return to Australia without charge. At present we have counted 120 of the 226 Senators and Members of Federal Parliament who have supported actions to bring Julian Assange home

US Refuses to Give Assurances of First Amendment Protection to Julian Assange

On the 16th April 2024, the US Embassy in London responded to the Appeals Court Judges request for assurances regarding the treatment of Julian if extradited to the US. The response specifically excluded First Amendment and hence freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Convention to Julian Assange.

A decision as to the applicability of the First Amendment is exclusively within the purview of the U.S. Courts

Embassy of the United States of America London,England. April 16, 2024

Full communication:


Editors Note:
A simple overview of the separation of powers.
The United States Congress ( Senate and House of Representatives) make the laws,
The Administration ( Executive under the President) enacts and operates within these laws.
The Judiciary interpret laws.

The prosecution is under direction of the Department of Justice which is part of the administration. They cannot make assurances ( ie tell the Judiciary how to run a case)
Also as there is no case before the Judiciary, they cannot make a ruling on the applicability of a First Amendment defence

The fact that the US constitution only offers protection to United States citizens is central to allowing the excesses of he US administration such as Guantanamo Bay, extrajudicial extradition, Abu Ghraib

The following issues are still of concern

1. European Convention on Human Rights

The note issues an empty statement, namely, that Assange can try to raise the First Amendment at trial, but the U.S. Department of Justice can’t guarantee he would get it, which is precisely what it must do under British extradition law based on the European Convention on Human Rights. 

The U.S. is legally restricted to assure a free speech guarantee to Assange equivalent to Article 10 of the European Convention, which the British court is bound to follow. However without that assurance, Assange should be freed according to a British Crown Prosecution Service comment on extraditions.

2. UK Courts cannot enforce assurances

The US assurances mean nothing because if Julian gets to a US court there is nothing UK courts can do to enforce them. They cannot guarantee his safety in any way whatsoever.

1.  USAID v. Alliance for Open Society, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2020 that non-U.S. citizens outside the U.S. do not possess constitutional rights.
2. Both former C.I.A. Director Mike Pompeo and Gordon Kromberg, Assange’s U.S. prosecutor, have said Assange does not have First Amendment protection

Andrew Wilkie: US Assurance for Assange a Fantasy

On the 17th April 2024, Andrew Wilkie (Australian MP and co-chair of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Committee) posted this concerning article on his web site

“The United States Government’s assurance that Julian Assange would have all the protections of a US citizen in a US court is obviously a fantasy. That Mr Assange will have the ‘ability to raise and seek to rely upon at trial the rights and protections given under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States’, but its applicability ‘is exclusively within the purview of the U.S. Courts’ is no assurance at all. Either he does or he doesn’t, it’s as simple as that. Indeed these assurances are basically political promises and there is no way of enforcing them in a court of law.

“If the US can’t guarantee that Mr Assange will unequivocally be able to rely on the free speech protection under the First Amendment, then the United Kingdom High Court of Justice must allow Mr Assange to appeal his extradition. Even better, the US can come to a diplomatic solution and drop the prosecution of Mr Assange to allow him to return to Australia.”

Read original article on Andrew Wilkie’s blog

Australia Asks U.S. Justice Department to Reach Plea Deal With Assange

On the 14th April 2024 the Wall Street Journal reported on the US reach a plea deal to allow Julian to return to Australia

The [US] Justice Department is under growing pressure to reach a plea deal with Julian Assange, after a request to do so from the WikiLeaks founder’s native Australia and questions from a U.K. court that could prevent his extradition to the U.S. for many more months. 

The government of Australia last week asked the U.S. if it could reach a felony plea deal with Assange that could result in his return home, according to people familiar with the matter.

Rest of article requires a subscription and there is little follow reporting

Read original article in the Wall Street Journal.

However reported in the Age on 21st March 2024 in Assange legal team responds to reports of potential plea deal

As we reported earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported the US Justice Department is weighing whether to allow Julian Assange to plead guilty to a reduced charge of mishandling classified information, creating a path toward the resolution of his legal case.

However, a lawyer for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said his legal team saw no indication of a resolution to US charges against him.

The WSJ reported that the US Justice Department is considering whether to allow Assange to plead guilty to a reduced charge of mishandling classified information. The newspaper cited people familiar with the matter.

Such a deal would potentially allow Assange to enter a plea to the misdemeanour charge remotely, and walk free without travelling to the US, which has been seeking his extradition from the UK for years.

The WSJ reported that the US Justice Department is considering whether to allow Assange to plead guilty to a reduced charge of mishandling classified information. The newspaper cited people familiar with the matter.

Such a deal would potentially allow Assange to enter a plea to the misdemeanour charge remotely, and walk free without travelling to the US, which has been seeking his extradition from the UK for years.

New York Times: Let Assange Go Home

On April the 12th 2024, Serge Schmemann, Editorial Board Member, post this opinion article in support of Julian in he New York Times

Editors Note: The New York Times is one of the co-publishers of CableGate and a signatory of the ‘Publishing is Not a Crime‘ open letter published on 28th November 2022

Let Assange Go Home

He has been punished enough

The case of Julian Assange must rank among the most bizarre in the annals of legal wrangling. The founder of WikiLeaks, a site dedicated to publishing leaked information, Assange has spent five years in a high-security British prison and, before that, almost seven years holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, all without ever going on trial. Basically, he has sacrificed those 12 years of his life to avoid having to face espionage charges in the United States.

With a ruling by a British high court on extraditing him to the United States finally imminent, the case has taken two turns. One was a request by Australia, where Assange is from, to drop the prosecution and let him go home. The other was President Biden saying, “We’re considering it.”

The president should grant Australia’s request.

Not because Assange is innocent or noble. He was originally wanted in Sweden in connection with a sexual assault investigation that was subsequently dropped, and he has demonstrated a distinct preference for authoritarian regimes over democracies. The deed for which the United States is after him, the publication of an enormous trove of classified documents supplied by a U.S. Army private, Chelsea Manning, was carried out without any of the precautions news organizations normally take to protect individuals or information that could imperil national security.

The case should be dropped, first of all, because the charge of espionage brought by the Trump administration poses a serious threat to the First Amendment and to the fundamental role of a free press in keeping tabs on government, via whistle-blowers and leakers, if need be. President Barack Obama decided against an espionage charge for that reason and charged Assange only with assisting Manning in breaking into government computer systems in 2010, a crime that falls outside the standards of journalism.

But Donald Trump, who famously branded the free press as “the enemy of the people,” had no such compunction and set the stage for a trial that could challenge the distinction between exposing abuse of power and helping foreign adversaries harm the United States.

This is not a case the Biden administration should be prosecuting. Given the time Assange has already been in effective detention — far more than the nearly seven years Manning served before her 35-year sentence was commuted by Obama as “very disproportionate relative to what other leakers have received” — the president can legitimately argue that Assange has been amply punished.

Read Original Article in the New York Times (need to login)

Biden Considering Dropping Charges Against Julian Assange

On the 11th April 2024, in response to a question from Steven Nelson, US President Joe Biden hinted that the US may be considering dropping charges against Julian Assange

Australian PM Anthony Albanese has said US President Joe Biden’s comment about ‘considering’ his request to drop the pursuit of Julian Assange is ‘encouraging’.

The Canberra Times

Overnight, US President Joe Biden was asked for his response to Australia’s request to end the prosecution of Julian Assange, to which he replied: “We are considering it.”

The response came on the eve of Julian beginning his 6th year in Belmarsh maximum security prison.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese expressed that it was “an encouraging comment from President Biden.” Julian’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson also noted that the response was “encouraging” and said “we certainly hope this was a serious remark and that the US will act on it.”

Assange Campaign Newsletter

Read more articles:
BBC News: Biden considering Australian request to drop Julian Assange charges
Washington Post: Julian Assange supporters hopeful as Biden considers request to drop charges
New York Times: Assange’s Wife Expresses Cautious Hope as Biden Suggests U.S. Might Drop Case
Aljazeera: Biden ‘considering’ Australian request to drop case against Assange
And many many many more – search for ‘Biden Assange drop charges’

Gabriel Shipton comments on the role of strong journalists supporting Julian Assange and Press Freedom

On the 5th April Steven Nelson asking about the White House policy of Free Press in regards to the persecution of Julian Assange. The question is ignored

UK Court Gives Biden Chance to Dodge Assange Appeal by “Assuring” His Rights

On the 29th March 2024, Marjorie Cohn writes in truthout

WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange is closer than ever to being extradited to the United States for trial on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion over WikiLeaks’s 2010-2011 revelation of evidence of U.S. war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. He faces 175 years in prison.

“This is a signal to all of you that if you expose the interests that are driving war they will come after you, they will put you in prison and they will try to kill you,” said Stella Assange, Julian’s wife, of his prosecution.

On March 26, the United Kingdom Divisional Court denied Assange the opportunity to make most of his appellate arguments. But the two-judge panel of Justice Jeremy Johnson and Dame Victoria Sharp left open the possibility that Assange could appeal on three grounds. They found that Assange “has a real prospect of success” on the following issues: If extradited to the U.S., he will be denied the right to freedom of expression, will suffer discrimination because he’s not a U.S. citizen and could be sentenced to death.

Rather than simply allowing Assange to argue the three issues on appeal, however, the panel gave the Biden administration an out. If the U.S. provides the court with “satisfactory assurances” that Assange won’t be denied any of these rights, his extradition to the U.S. can proceed without an appeals hearing.

Stella Assange called the decision “astounding,” adding, “The court’s recognized that Julian has been exposed to flagrant denial of his freedom of expression rights, that he is being discriminated against on the basis of his nationality and that he remains exposed to the death penalty.” 

At an earlier stage in this case, the U.S. gave the U.K. High Court “assurances” that Assange would be treated humanely if extradited. That caused the court to reverse the magistrate judge’s denial of extradition (which was based on the likelihood of suicide if Assange is held in harsh U.S. confinement). The High Court accepted those assurances at face value in spite of the U.S.’s history of reneging on similar assurances.

The current ruling, however, requires U.S. assurances to be “satisfactory” and the defense will have an opportunity to challenge them at a hearing.

“Mr. Assange will not, therefore, be extradited immediately,” the panel wrote, implying that if they had denied his appeal outright, the U.K. authorities would put him on a plane to the U.S. forthwith. They gave the U.S. three weeks to come forward with satisfactory assurances.

If the U.S. fails to provide any assurances, Assange will be granted a hearing on the three grounds. If the U.S. does give assurances, a hearing to decide whether they are satisfactory will occur on May 20.

“The Biden administration should not offer assurances. They should drop this shameful case that should never have been brought,” Stella Assange said.

These are the grounds the High Court will review if the U.S. fails to provide “satisfactory assurances”:

1. Extradition Would Violate Freedom of Expression Guaranteed by Article 10 of European Convention on Human Rights 

Assange would argue at trial that his actions were protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. “He contends that if he is given First Amendment rights, the prosecution will be stopped. The First Amendment is therefore of central importance to his defence,” the panel concluded.

The First Amendment provides “strong protection” to freedom of expression, similar to that provided by Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, the panel noted. Article 10 (1) of the convention says, “Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers.”

Gordon Kromberg, assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, where Assange’s trial would be held, said the prosecution might argue at trial that “foreign nationals are not entitled to protections under the First Amendment,” the panel noted. In 2017, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo said that Assange “has no First Amendment freedoms” because “he is not a U.S. citizen.”

In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2020 case of Agency for International Development v. Alliance for Open Society International that “it is long settled as a matter of American constitutional law that foreign citizens outside United States territory do not possess rights under the US Constitution.”

The panel wrote that if Assange “is not permitted to rely on the First Amendment, then it is arguable that his extradition would be incompatible with article 10 of the Convention.”

But even if the U.S. Department of Justice prosecutors give “significant assurances” that Assange’s First Amendment rights would be protected, that is no guarantee. Prosecutors are part of the executive branch, which cannot bind the judicial branch due to the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.

“The ruling reveals that the High Court does not understand the American system of government,” Stephen Rohde, who practiced First Amendment law for almost 50 years and writes extensively about the Assange case, told Truthout. “It only has before it the executive branch of the U.S. government. Whatever ‘significant assurances’ the Department of Justice may give the High Court, they are not binding on the judicial branch.”

Moreover, Rohde said, “The High Court is obligated to uphold Assange’s rights to ‘freedom of expression’ under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects Assange even if the U.S. courts refuse to do so. The only way to do that is to deny extradition.”

2. The U.K. Extradition Act Forbids Discrimination Based on Nationality

Julian Assange is an Australian citizen who would be tried in the U.S. if the Biden administration’s pursuit of extradition is successful.

Section 81(b) of the U.K. Extradition Act says that extradition is barred for an individual who “might be prejudiced at his trial or punished, detained or restricted in his personal liberty by reason of his … nationality.”

Due to the centrality of the First Amendment to Assange’s defense, the panel noted, “If he is not permitted to rely on the First Amendment because of his status as a foreign national, he will thereby be prejudiced (potentially very greatly prejudiced) by reason of his nationality.”

3. Extradition Is Barred by Inadequate Death Penalty Protection Required by the Extradition Act

Section 94 of the U.K. Extradition Act says, “The Secretary of State must not order a person’s extradition … if he could be, will be or has been sentenced to death for the offence” in the receiving state. That limitation does not apply if a written “assurance” that is “adequate” says “that a sentence of death- (a) will not be imposed, or (b) will not be carried out (if imposed).”

None of the charges that Assange is currently facing carry the death penalty. But if extradited to the U.S., he could be charged with aiding and abetting treason or espionage, both of which are capital offenses.

Ben Watson KC, secretary of state for the Home Department, admitted that:

a.) The facts alleged against [Assange] could sustain a charge of aiding or abetting treason, or espionage.

b.) If [Assange] is extradited, there is nothing to prevent a charge of aiding or abetting treason, or a charge of espionage, from being added to the indictment.

c.) The death penalty is available on conviction for aiding or abetting treason, or espionage.

d.) There are no arrangements in place to prevent the imposition of the death penalty.

e.) The existing assurance does not explicitly prevent the imposition of the death.

The panel noted that when former President Donald Trump was asked about WikiLeaks publishing the leaked documents, he said, “I think it was disgraceful…. I think there should be like a death penalty or something.” If Trump is reelected, he may seek to ensure that his Justice Department adds capital charges to the indictment.

In concluding that Assange could raise this issue on appeal subject to “significant assurances,” the panel cited “the potential, on the facts, for capital charges to be laid; the calls for the imposition of the death penalty by leading politicians and other public figures; the fact that the Treaty does not preclude extradition for death penalty charges, and the fact that the existing assurance does not explicitly cover the death penalty.”

Appeal Grounds Denied by Panel

Remaining grounds for appeal that Assange requested were denied by the panel. They include prosecution for a political offense, prosecution based on political opinion; violation of right to a fair trial; violation of right to life; and violation of right to be free from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In addition, since no publisher has ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act for publishing government secrets, Assange could not have known it was a crime.

The panel also ruled that Assange could not introduce new evidence adduced after the magistrate judge’s ruling. This includes a Yahoo News report detailing the CIA’s plan to kidnap and kill Assange when he was living under a grant of asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

If the U.S. offers “significant assurances” and extradition is ordered, Assange could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights and raise these additional issues as well.

Meanwhile, there is a possibility that instead of filing “assurances,” the Biden administration will opt to avoid the political pitfalls of Assange’s extradition to the U.S. and offer a plea bargain to end the case.

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