The Assange Hearing Permission Appeal Judgment: Mad and Bad

On the 29th March 2024, Craig Murray posted his assessment of the latest Judgement in the High Court Appeal in the Assange Case

The latest judgment by the High Court in the Assange case achieved completely the objectives of the UK and US states. Above all, Julian remains in the hell which is Belmarsh maximum security prison. He is now safely there alone and incommunicado, from the authorities’ point of view, for at least several more months. 

Importantly, the United States has managed to keep him detained without securing his actual appearance in Washington. It is crucial to grasp that the CIA, who are very much controlling the process, do not actually want him to appear there until after their attempt to secure the re-election of Genocide Joe. No matter what your opinion of Donald Trump, there is no doubt the CIA conspired against him during his entire Presidency, beginning with the fake Russiagate scandal and ending with their cover-up of the Hunter Biden laptop story. They do not want Trump back.

Biden is politically in deep trouble. Biden’s lifelong political support for Israel has been unwavering to the point of fanaticism. In the process he has collected millions of dollars from the Zionist lobby. That always seemed a source of political strength in the United States, not of weakness. 

The current genocide in Gaza has changed all those calculations. The sheer evil and viciousness of the Israeli state, the open and undisguised enthusiasm for racist massacre, has achieved the seemingly impossible task of turning much American public opinion against Israel. 

That is particularly true among key elements of the Democratic base. Young people and ethnic minorities have been shocked that the party they have supported is backing and supplying genocide. The mainstream media have lost control of the narrative, when the truth is so widely available on mobile phones, to the point that the MSM have actually been forced to change course and occasionally tell truths about Israel. That also was unthinkable a few months ago. 

Precisely the same groups who are outraged by Biden’s support for genocide are going to be alienated by the attack on a journalist and publisher for revealing true facts about war crimes. Assange is not currently a major public issue in the United States, because he is not currently in the United States. Were he to arrive there in chains, the media coverage would be massive and the issue unavoidable in the presidential election campaign. 

The extradition proceeding has therefore had to be managed in such a way as to keep Assange locked in a living hell the whole time, without actually achieving the extradition until after the presidential election in November. As the years of hearings have rolled by this has become increasingly difficult for the British state to finesse on behalf of their American masters. 

In this respect, and only in this respect, Dame Victoria Sharp and Lord Justice Johnson have done brilliantly in their judgment. 

Senior British judges do not have to be told what to do. They are closely integrated into a small political establishment that is socially interlinked, defined by membership of institutions, and highly subject to groupthink. 

Dame Victoria Sharp’s brother Richard arranged an £800,000 personal loan for then Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and subsequently became chairman of the BBC despite a complete lack of relevant experience. Lord Justice Johnson as a lawyer represented the intelligence services and the Ministry of Defence. 

They did not have to be told what to do in this case explicitly, although it was very plain that they entered the two-day hearing process knowing nothing except a briefing they had been given that the crux of the case was the revelation of names of US informants in the Wikileaks material. 

The potential danger of an appeal, the granting of which would achieve the United States’ objective of putting the actual extradition back beyond the election date, was that it would allow the airing in public of a great catalogue of war crimes and other illegal activity which had been exposed by Wikileaks. 

Sharp and Johnson have obviated this danger by adjourning the decision with the possibility of granting an appeal, but only on extremely limited grounds. Those grounds would explicitly gag the defence from ever mentioning again in court inconvenient facts, such as United States war crimes including murder, torture and extraordinary rendition, as well as the plans by the United States to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange. 

All of those things are precluded by this judgment from ever being raised again in the extradition hearings. The politically damaging aspect of the case in terms of the Manning revelations and CIA behaviour has been cauterised in the UK. 

There has been some confusion because the judgment stated that three grounds of possible appeal were open. But in fact this was really only two. The judgment states that freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Convention is adequately covered by the First Amendment protections of the US Constitution. Therefore this point can only be argued by the defence against extradition if the First Amendment will not be applied in the case. 

The second ground of appeal which they stated may be allowed was discrimination by nationality, in that the prosecution has stated that as a foreign citizen who committed the alleged acts whilst outside of the United States, Julian may not have the protection of the First Amendment or indeed of any of the rights enshrined in the US Constitution. 

So the first two grounds are in fact identical. Sharp and Johnson ruled that both would fall if an assurance were received from the government of the United States that Julian would not be denied a First Amendment defence on grounds of nationality. 

The other ground on which an appeal may be allowed to go forward is the lack of an assurance from the United States that, following additional charges, Julian may not become subject to the death penalty. 

I shall go on to analyse what happens now and the chances of success on any of these allowed appeal points, but I wish first to revisit the points which have not been allowed and which are now barred from ever being raised in these proceedings again. 

The most spectacular argument in the judgment, and one which I trust will become notorious in British legal history, refers to the application to bring in new evidence regarding the US authorities’ illegal spying on Julian and plotting to kidnap or assassinate him. 

There are any number of things in this case over five years which are so perverse that they have to be witnessed to be believed, but none has risen to this height and it would be a struggle for anybody to come up with anything in British legal history more brazen than this. 

Judge Johnson and Judge Sharp accept that there is evidence to the required standard that the US authorities did plot to kidnap and consider assassinating Julian Assange, but they reason at para. 210 that, as extradition is now going to be granted, there is no longer any need for the United States to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange: and therefore the argument falls.

It does not seem to occur to them that a willingness to consider extrajudicial violent action against Julian Assange amounts to a degree of persecution which obviously reflects on his chances of a fair trial and treatment in the United States. It is simply astonishing, but the evidence of the US plot to destroy Julian Assange, including evidence from the ongoing criminal investigation in Spain into the private security company involved, will never again be allowed to be mentioned in Julian’s case against extradition. 

Similarly, we are at the end of the line for arguing that the treaty under which Julian is being extradited forbids extradition for political offences. The judgment confirms boldly that treaty obligations entered into by the United Kingdom are not binding in domestic law and confer no individual rights. 

Of over 150 extradition treaties entered into by the United Kingdom, all but two ban extradition for political offences. The judgment is absolutely clear that those clauses are redundant in every single one of those treaties. 

Every dictatorship on Earth can now come after political dissidents in the UK and they will not have the protection of those clauses against political extradition in the treaties. That is absolutely plain on the face of this ruling. 

The judgment also specifically rejects the idea that the UK court has to consider rights under the European Convention of Human Rights in considering an extradition application. They state that in the United States—as in other Category 2 countries in terms of the Extradition Act 2003—those rights can be presumed to be protected at trial by the legislation of the country seeking extradition. 

That argument abdicating responsibility for application of the ECHR is one that is not likely to be accepted if this case ever gets to Strasbourg (but see below on the possibility of that happening). 

By refusing to hear the freedom of expression argument, the court is ruling out listening to the war crimes exposed by the material published and hearing that the publication of state level crime is protected speech. That entire argument is now blocked off in future hearings and there will be no more mention of US war crimes. 

The judges accept—hook, line and sinker—the tendentious argument that Julian is not being charged with the publication of all of the material but only with those documents within the material which reveal the name of US informants and sources. As I reported at the time, this was plainly the one “fact” with which the judges had been briefed before the hearing.

That it is a legitimate exercise to remove entirely from consideration the context of the totality of what was revealed in terms of state crimes, and to cherry pick a tiny portion of the release, is by no means clear; but their approach is in any event fatally flawed by a complete non sequitur: 

At para. 45 they argue that none of the material revealing criminal behaviour by the United States is being charged, only material which reveals names. Their argument depends upon an assumption that the material revealing names of informants or sources does not also reveal any criminal behaviour by the United States. That assumption is completely and demonstrably false. 

Let us now turn to the grounds on which a right to appeal is provisionally allowed, but may be cancelled in the event of sufficient diplomatic assurances being received from the United States. 

To start with the death penalty, which has understandably drawn the most headlines: it astonishes me, as this argument has been in play now for several months, that the United States has not provided the simple assurance against imposition of the death penalty which is absolutely bog standard in many extradition proceedings. 

There is no controversy about it, and it is really quick and easy to do. It is a template: you just fill in the details and whiz off the diplomatic note. It takes 5 minutes. 

I do not believe the Biden administration is failing to provide the assurance against the death penalty because they wish to execute Julian Assange. They do not need to execute him. They can entomb him in a tiny concrete cell, living a totally solitary existence in a living hell. Arguably, he is of more value alive that way as a terrible warning to other journalists, rather than an executed martyr. 

I view the failure so far to produce a guarantee against the death penalty as the clearest evidence that the Biden administration is trying simply to kick this back past the election. By not providing the assurance, already they have achieved a delay of another few weeks which they have been given to provide the assurance, and then further time until the hearing on 20 May to discuss whether assurances produced have been adequate. Not giving the death penalty assurance is simply a stalling tactic, and I am sure they will go right up to the deadline given by the court and then provide it. 

The second assurance requested by the court is actually much more interesting. They have requested an assurance that Julian Assange will be able to plead a First Amendment defence on freedom of expression and will not be prevented from doing so on the grounds of his Australian nationality. 

The problem which the United States faces is that it is the federal judge who will decide whether or not Julian is entitled to plead that his freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment. Neither the Department of Justice nor the State Department can bind the judge by an assurance. 

The problem was flagged up by the US prosecutor in this case who stated that it is open to the prosecution to argue that a foreign national, operating abroad as Julian did, does not have First Amendment rights. It is extremely important to understand why this was said. 

The prisoners in Guantanamo Bay are deemed not to have any constitutional rights, despite being under the power of the US authorities, because they were non-US citizens acting abroad. 

A key US Supreme Court judgment in the case of USAID versus Open Society stated unequivocally that non-US citizens acting abroad do not have First Amendment protection. At first sight that decision appears to have little relevance. It concerns foreign charities in receipt of US aid funds which, as a condition of aid, they must oppose sex work. They attempted to claim this was in breach of First Amendment rights but the Supreme Court ruled that, as foreigners acting abroad, they did not have any such rights. 

While that may appear of limited relevance, referring to NGOs not individuals, there is a paragraph in the Open Society judgment which states as a rationale that were First Amendment rights to be granted to those NGOs they would also have to be granted to foreigners with whom the US military and intelligence services were in contact – i.e. the Guantanamo problem. 

This paragraph of the Supreme Court ruling appears inescapable in the Assange case:

Julian was a foreign national operating abroad when the Wikileaks material was published. So I do not see how the United States can simply give an assurance on this point, and indeed it seems to me very likely that Julian would indeed be denied First Amendment rights at trial in the United States. 

The sensible solution would of course be that as a non-US citizen publishing material outside the United States, Julian should not be subject to US jurisdiction at all. But that will not be adopted. 

So I anticipate the United States will produce an assurance which tries to fudge this. They will probably give an assurance that the prosecutor will not attempt to argue that Julian has no First Amendment rights. But that cannot prevent the judge from ruling that he does not, especially as there is a Supreme Court judgement to rely on. 

In May when we come to the hearing on the permitted points of appeal, it is vital to understand that there will be two parts to the argument. The first part will be to consider whether the assurances received by diplomatic note from the United States are sufficient for the grounds of appeal to fall completely. 

However if it is decided that the assurances from the United States are insufficient, that does not automatically mean that the appeal succeeds. It just means that the appeal is heard. The court will then decide whether the death penalty or nationality discrimination points are strong enough to stop the extradition. 

The absence of the death penalty assurance should end the extradition process. But the hearing would see the prosecution argue that it is not necessary, as there are no capital charges currently and none are likely to be added. The judges could go with this, given the undisguised bias towards the United States throughout.

The state will again kick in with its iron resolve to crush Julian. I don’t think that the United States will be able, for the reasons I have given, to provide assurances on the nationality and First Amendment rights, but I think the court will nonetheless order extradition. 

The United States will argue that it is a free country with a fair trial system and independent judges and that Julian will be allowed to make the argument in court that he should have First Amendment rights. The UK court should accept that the US judge will come to a fair decision which protects all human rights considerations. They will say that it is perfectly reasonable and normal for states to treat citizens and foreign nationals abroad in different ways in different contexts, including consular protection. 

A justice system which is capable of ruling that a person should be handed over to his attempted kidnapper, because then the kidnapper does not have to kidnap him, and ruling that the clauses of the very treaty under which somebody is being extradited do not apply, is capable of accepting that the ability to argue in court for a First Amendment defence is sufficient, even if that defence is likely to be denied.

There is, however, plenty of meat in those questions that would allow another adjourned hearing, another long delay for a judgment and plenty of leeway to get past the November election for Genocide Joe. 

The British establishment continues to move inexorably towards ordering Julian’s extradition at the time of its choosing. Once extradition is ordered, Julian in theory has an opportunity to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights. 

The European Court of Human Rights can delay the extradition until it hears the case by a section 39 order. But there are two flaws: firstly the extradition may be carried out immediately upon the court judgement before a section 39 order can be obtained, which would take at least 48 hours. Secondly the Rwanda Safety Act has provision, though specifically in the Rwanda context, for the government to ignore section 39 orders from the ECHR. 

It cannot be ruled out that the British government would simply extradite Julian even in the face of an ECHR hearing. That would be popular with the Conservative base and, given Starmer’s extremely extensive and dubious role in the Assange saga while Director of Public Prosecutions, I certainly do not put it past him either. It is worth noting that there have been several occasions in recent years when the Home Office has deported people despite British court orders putting a stay on the deportation. There has never been any consequence other than a verbal rap on the knuckles for the Secretary of State from the court. 

So the struggle goes on. It is a fight for freedom of speech, it is a fight for freedom of the press, and above all it is a fight for the right of you and me to know the crimes that our governments commit, in our name and with our money. 

I am ever more struck by the fact that in fighting for Julian I am fighting exactly the same power structures and adversaries who are behind the genocide in Gaza. 

I need to close with an appeal. Please do not stop reading. You will recall that I recently addressed the UN Human Rights Committee on Julian’s case and in doing so had the opportunity to state a few hard truths about the war crimes of the United States.

My opportunity to do so was organised by the Swiss NGO Justice For All International, who submitted a shadow report (open link and click on red icon) by their lawyers to the UN 7 year Periodic Review of the UK’s human rights record. Justice For All also carried out a great deal of lobbying activity in connection with this to get me onto that stage and into meetings with key officials. 

I had agreed a fee to pay Justice For All for this legal and lobbying activity, in the expectation that it would be met from the substantial funds held by the bodies comprising the US/European institutions of Julian Assange campaign. 

Unfortunately the Assange campaign has refused to meet the bill and I have been left holding it. 

I have been told that I failed to follow correct procedures to apply for the spending. I am frankly in shock and a form of grief, because I thought we were friends working for a common cause, in my own case for free. I am reminded of the brilliant perception of Eric Hoffer: “Every great cause begins as a movement and becomes a business”. 

I am left with this bill I cannot pay for the work at the UN. Justice For All could not have been nicer about the situation, but if you could contribute to this Justice For All crowdfunder, I should be very grateful.

Read original article and much more and hopefully contribute to Craigs mammoth efforts in Craig’s Blog

Rep. Thomas Massie Invites Julian Assange’s Brother, Gabriel Shipton, to Attend State of the Union Address

On the 5th March 2024, US Congressman Thomas Massie issued a press release advising he has invited Gabriel Shipton to attend the US President, Joe Biden’s, State of of the Union Address on the March 7th.

The press release reads:

For Immediate Release
March 5, 2024
Contact: massie.press@mail.house.gov
Contact #: 202-225-3465


Washington, D.C.- Representative Thomas Massie announces that Mr. Gabriel Shipton, brother of imprisoned journalist Julian Assange, will be attending the State of the Union Address as his guest. Mr. Shipton is a prominent advocate for Mr. Assange’s release.

“The U.S. government’s ongoing effort to prosecute Julian Assange threatens the First Amendment rights of Americans and should be opposed,” said Rep. Thomas Massie. “During his term in office, I asked President Trump to pardon Mr. Assange, and I was disappointed by his failure to do so. President Biden should drop the criminal charges currently being pursued by the Department of Justice. I am pleased Mr. Shipton has accepted my invitation to join me at the State of the Union.”

“I am honored to be Representative Massie’s guest at the State of the Union address,” said Mr. Gabriel Shipton. “The prosecution of Julian Assange is a direct attack on the 1st amendment and the freedom of the press to publish information in the public interest. Rep. Massie is a fierce defender of these rights having introduced legislation that would protect my brother Julian and put an end to the espionage act being weaponised against publishers. I hope President Biden, can take a new look at the indictment and see it for the threat to democracy that it is.”

Mr. Shipton’s appearance at the State of the Union will bring additional attention to a bipartisan letter Rep. Massie and Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) previously sent to President Biden on Mr. Assange’s behalf. The letter asks President Biden to “halt all prosecutorial proceedings” against Julian Assange “as soon as possible.” The letter may be read in its entirety at this link. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) is among the signatories. 

The State of the Union Address is scheduled to be delivered by President Joe Biden on Thursday, March 7 at 9:00 PM. 

Original posting on US Congress Web Site

Read other international news coverage:
Fox News Rep. Massie bringing Julian Assange’s brother as guest to State of the Union
Louisville Courier Journal Rep. Thomas Massie bringing brother of WikiLeaks founder Assange to State of the Union
Antiwar.com Rep. Massie to Bring Julian Assange’s Brother to Biden’s State of the Union

75 German MPs demand Julian’s Release

In February 2024, 75 German Member’s of Parliament signed an open letter demanding Julian’s release.

Google translation reads :

Appeal: Members of the Bundestag speak out for Julian Assange’s freedom!


A year and a half ago there was already an open letter in which members of the Bundestag spoke out in favour of the immediate release of Julian Assange in the interests of press freedom and for humanitarian reasons. The call for the immediate release of Mr Assange, as expressed in Resolution 2317 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, remains extremely timely and urgent.

We are monitoring with great concern the ongoing criminal and extradition proceedings by the US Department of Justice against the founder of WikiLeaks.
Assange’s appeal against the decision to extradite him to the USA will be heard on February 20 and 21, 2024. This decision leaves him with no further domestic legal remedies.

Julian Assange already suffers from a depressive disorder and is considered to be at risk of suicide. He faces numerous charges in the United States over the alleged unlawful publication of diplomatic and other documents via the WikiLeaks platform. His prison conditions in Great Britain are unacceptable. If he is extradited, his physical and mental condition will continue to deteriorate; he could be held in solitary confinement for a longer period of time until the trial; if he is convicted, he will face a prison sentence of up to 175 years. For these reasons, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture last week advocated for the United Kingdom government to stop any possible extradition of Julian Assange to the United States of America.

We are advocating for charges against Julian Assange under the Espionage Act, Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to be dropped. The political show trial against Assange must end immediately. He is entitled to a fair trial before the European Court of Human Rights. As long as there is no final decision from the ECHR in Julian Assange’s case, he may not be extradited to the USA.
A negative outcome for him from this negotiation would be a dangerous precedent and would mean another severe blow to the situation of press freedom in Europe. We therefore reiterate our call for the immediate release of Julian Assange and call on the Federal Government to emphasise this concern to the British and US governments in order to finally end the political persecution of Julian Assange.

Original letter in German

Appell-_Freilassung_Assange.pdf

Support for Julian from Timor-Leste

On the 23rd February the editors received this message from the President of Timor-Leste, José Manuel Ramos-Horta.

Let Assange Be Free to Return to Australia 

I do not comment on the substance and merit of the case against JULIAN ASSANGE. As an informed and concerned person who deeply values media freedom, I just hope that sanity, justice and humanity prevail and Assange is let free to return to his native Australia. 

So many young lives were lost in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, on all sides involved, so many lies and half truths were said by all involved, so many more were wounded and rendered disabled and traumatised. Why continue to haunt someone who shared official communications with the public without endangering anyone’s life in the process. 

The US is far greater than the pettiness of revenge, it should be far greater in wisdom and humanity, it should simply close this dark chapter of US recent wars. 

J Ramos-Horta  21 February 2024

Accompanying this message is some background from a close associate and former team member.

For Julian Assange

In my role as the spokeswoman for the East Timorese resistance movement working to Jose Ramos Horta during the 1990’s, we relied on a free and fair media populated by journalists with a passion and a capacity for truth seeking and truth telling. Unafraid of consequences they would run stories because they were in the public interest, roughly translated that is ‘in the interest of humanity’. Julian did that. That was the right thing to do. He is a truth teller, a whistle blower, a man born for this moment.

The United States of America have made Julian a hero because, for some reason they have developed a fear of the light of truth. And, in so doing they have created the most important voice of our time. From now on, the world’s attention is on Julian.

As humans, we all live on this planet together, regardless of how differently each of us does life. But one thing is for sure, the ongoing state of all of our lives, peace and the healthy democratic practice that underpins it, the responsibility of nation states to uphold these values, have been placed fairly and squarely in the public’s eye.

We are all watching. This gaze represents an opportunity for the US to humbly admit to its wrong doing and put reparations in place.

Julian does not need pardoning because he has not done anything wrong. He has not broken any laws. He has acted only in the interests of justice, democracy, rule of law and the peace and stability of humanity on this planet. He is the Voice. He spoke up, no one else did.

Respect him, honour him. Bring him home, compensate him and then, release all whistle blowers who have been incarcerated for telling the truth.

It is time for the US to shine. Imagine it, I can.

Margherita Tracanelli
Former CNRM (National Council Maubere Resistance) Media &
Communication Director
1992-1999

MOTIONS – Assange, Mr Julian Paul

On 14th February 2024, Hansard recorded the passing of this motion in the House of Representatives of the Australian Parliament. The motion passed 86 to 42, supporting Julian Assange

Assange, Mr Julian Paul

Mr WILKIE  (Clark) (16:48): I move:

That so much of the standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the following:

(1) the Member for Clark moving: 

That this House:

(a) notes that:

(i) on 20 and 21 February 2024, the High Court of Justice in the United Kingdom will hold a hearing into whether Walkley Award winning journalist, Mr Julian Assange, can appeal against his extradition to the United States of America;

(ii) Mr Assange remains incarcerated in HMP Belmarsh in the UK, awaiting a decision on whether he can be extradited to the USA to face charges for material published in 2010, which revealed shocking evidence of misconduct by the USA; and

(iii) both the Australian Government and Opposition have publicly stated that this matter has gone on for too long; and

(b) underlines the importance of the UK and USA bringing the matter to a close so that Mr Assange can return home to his family in Australia.

(2) debate on the motion being limited to the mover, seconder and two other Members;

(3) speaking times being 10 minutes for the mover and five minutes for all other Members speaking;

(4) amendments to the motion not being permitted; and

(5) any variation to the arrangement being made only on a motion moved by a Minister.

The SPEAKER:  Is the motion seconded?

Mr Josh Wilson:  I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.

Mr WILKIE  (Clark) (16:51): Sadly, we’ve just about run out of time to save Julian Assange, because on Tuesday and Wednesday, just next week, in what could well be Julian Assange’s last two days before a British court, the High Court of Justice in London is hearing Julian Assange’s request for leave to appeal his US extradition. If Mr Assange is unsuccessful next week in the UK High Court of Justice, the frightful reality is that he could be on a plane to the United States of America within hours.

Good God! This man has already been in Belmarsh high-security prison in London for about five years. This is the prison for the worst of the worst in the UK. It is where they put mass murderers and terrorists. It is where a prisoner was knifed and killed, elsewhere in the prison, the very afternoon I visited Julian Assange in 2000. Of course, the five years in Belmarsh followed some seven years holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy.

Surely this man has suffered enough. The matter must be brought to an end. But if he is unsuccessful next week in the London court, he could be on a plane within hours to another court—this time in the United States of America—where he’ll be facing 17 charges under the US Espionage Act and one charge under the US Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. If he is convicted, he will be facing 175 years in prison in the United States. In other words, if he is extradited, perhaps as soon as next week, he will be handed, more or less, a death sentence. Why? It is because this Walkley Award winning journalist did his job. It’s as simple as that. He did his job.

Let’s not forget that in 2010 Julian Assange, through WikiLeaks, revealed hard evidence of US war crimes and other misconduct in Iraq, in Afghanistan and at Guantanamo Bay. Who could possibly forget the grainy image, provided to WikiLeaks by a brave whistleblower, that subsequently was released under the title ‘collateral murder’? It was footage of a US attack helicopter gunning down and killing innocent civilians and Reuters journalists in a street in Iraq. We only know of that because Julian Assange made us aware of it. He was doing his job. He was exercising every right he has as a journalist to tell us about wrongdoing.

The injustice of all this is absolutely breathtaking—absolutely breathtaking—as much as the attack on journalism is terrifying because if this matter runs to its shameful conclusion, then it will have set a precedent that applies to all Australian journalists. If ever any Australian journalist annoys a foreign government in any way, and if that government is a government that the Australian government is hoping to curry favour with, then who’s to say that the Australian government won’t be complicit in the extradition or the transport of that Australian journalist to that country?

What happens if an Australian journalist offends China at a time we’re seeking to improve our relationship with China? The precedent will have been set that that journalist may well find him or herself on a plane to China. What about if we’re trying to curry favour with Saudi Arabia and an Australian journalist writes something that offends Saudi Arabia? Will the Australian government come to that Australian journalist’s aid? Well, the precedent will have been set and no Australian journalist can be confident they will be safe in the future if this extradition goes ahead.

That’s why we have this very important part of this motion: the importance of the UK and the USA bringing the matter to a close, finally, after seven years in the embassy, after five years in a high-security prison, to just allow this long-suffering Australian journalist to come home, to be with his wife, to be with his children. The importance of this is so great that I will be certainly jumping on a plane next Tuesday, hoping to be in London for the second day of the court hearing. I think it’s very important that a member of this parliament bears witness to what is going on in London next week, to stand with Julian’s family and to offer them some comfort and to communicate to Julian Assange and his family and his legal team the widespread support already in this parliament.

Let’s not forget there are dozens of members of this parliament who are members of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group. Almost one-third of this parliament signed an open letter to the US government not that long ago calling for this matter to be brought to an end. Today, in this place, shortly, this will be the time for all of us to stand up and to take a stand: to stand with Julian Assange, to stand for the principles of justice and to stand for the principles of media freedom and the rights of journalists to do their jobs.

I’m hopeful this motion can pass this afternoon. I’m hopeful that I can go to London next week and make it clear to the British government and, through the media, to the US government that the Australian parliament stands as one and calls for this matter to be brought to an end. Regardless of what you might think of Julian Assange, and I acknowledge in this place there’s a range of views—there are people who loathe the man, there are people who worship the man, but I’ll tell you what: no matter which end of that spectrum you are positioned, just about everyone agrees this has gone on too long, that it must be brought to an end. I’m confident that if this parliament can support this motion this afternoon, it will send a very powerful political signal to the British government and to the US government. It will send a very powerful signal to the British government that it should not entertain the idea of Mr Assange being extradited to the US. It will send a very powerful signal to Washington that Australia stands as one saying that this matter has gone on long enough.

Regardless of what you might think of Mr Assange, justice is not being served in this case now. In any case, he’s suffered enough. For heaven’s sakes, something like five years in Belmarsh, about seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy. How much is enough? This is the afternoon where this parliament takes a stand and says enough is enough, and that we call on the US and we call on the UK to let him out of prison, drop the charges, let him be rejoined with his family, let him come home.


Mr JOSH WILSON 
(Fremantle) (16:59): I am very glad to second this motion. Make no mistake, the Australian community wants to see Julian Assange go free. While there may be a range of views about Mr Assange, as the member for Clarke said, his further incarceration and prosecution are seen by many to represent an injustice, and that’s my personal view; it is not shared by everyone. But there are many in this chamber and in the other place who want to see the matter resolved. Indeed, the open letter from the co-convenor of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Friendship Group, which includes the member for Clarke and the member for Bass—with whom I am glad to share this debate—was signed by 63 members of the Australian parliament. It is significant that both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition have been clear in saying that the matter should come to an end.

The Prime Minister has properly raised a matter of Julian Assange with the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom and that marks a shift from what occurred previously. In May last year, the Prime Minister said ‘enough is enough ‘when it comes to the ongoing incarceration of Julian Assange, and also said ‘there is nothing to be served’ by the ongoing incarceration of Julian Assange. That is quite right, because Julian Assange has been held in maximum security conditions at Belmarsh prison for nearly five years. His health has suffered. His extradition to the US was previously denied by a UK court on the basis of his seriously poor mental health, which made him a suicide risk. 

While every country is of course entitled to apply its justice system and the US is entitled to apply its justice system, we should remember that Julian Assange has been now imprisoned for a considerable period without having being convicted of any substantial charge. He is an Australian citizen being pursued under the United States Espionage Act for the dissemination of material the United States regards as secret. The same material has been published without legal consequence by media organisations in the US. 

The open letter I referred to earlier was published in the Washington Post. The co-convernors wrote and 63 parliamentarians signed up to the statement that it is wrong for Mr Assange to be further persecuted and denied his liberty. When one considers the duration and circumstances of the detention he has already suffered, it serves no purpose. The letter concluded by saying:

We note with gratitude the considerable support in the United States for an end to the legal pursuit of Mr Assange from members of Congress, human rights advocates, academics, and civil society, and from within the US media in defence of free speech and independent journalism.

In acknowledging the death of American whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg last year, I noted his support for and solidarity with Julian Assange. Daniel Ellsberg was responsible for exposing some of the details of the circumstances of the Vietnam War. In a 2021 interview he said in relation to Julian, ‘Look, I was available for people to point to and say, We support good whistleblowers, but that is just ridiculous. Whatever he is guilty of, I’m guilty of. I identify with him completely. The notion that he is guilty of something that I the good guy wasn’t is false.’

We must never forget that, contrary to the idea that our safety and wellbeing depends more than anything else on secrecy, the reality is that our safety and wellbeing is at enormous risk when the most grave applications of state power are not held to account. In truth, the distinctive and most precious quality of all liberal democracies, including our own, is the capacity to apply open and proper scrutiny to all decision-making but especially decision-making that involves military action or the infringement of civil liberties through a security apparatus.

There are many in the United States and in the United Kingdom, in the media, in the Congress and in civil society that share the view that, when it comes to Julian Assange, enough is enough. It is healthy that this matter is openly and respectfully debated in all three countries. I think I can say on behalf of the co-convenors of the group that we have always found an openness in the United States and in the United Kingdom to have these conversations. That is a mark of what makes those three countries—ourselves, the United States and the United Kingdom—examples of liberal democracies at their best, the fact that we can have those conversations. But I say clearly that the further prosecution and incarceration of Julian Assange has no point, it serves no purpose and it should end. 

Question agreed to, with an absolute majority.

Mr WILKIE  (Clark) (17:05): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes that:

(a) on 20 and 21 February 2024, the High Court of Justice in the United Kingdom will hold a hearing into whether Walkley Award winning journalist, Mr Julian Assange, can appeal against his extradition to the United States of America;

(b) Mr Assange remains incarcerated in HMP Belmarsh in the UK, awaiting a decision on whether he can be extradited to the USA to face charges for material published in 2010, which revealed shocking evidence of misconduct by the USA; and

(c) both the Australian Government and Opposition have publicly stated that this matter has gone on for too long; and

(2) underlines the importance of the UK and USA bringing the matter to a close so that Mr Assange can return home to his family in Australia.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (  Ms Vamvakinou  ): Is the motion seconded?

Mr Josh Wilson:  I second the motion.

Mrs ARCHER  (Bass) (17:06): Thanks to my co-conveners, the member for Clark and the member for Fremantle, for bringing this motion forward. For more than 4½ thousand days and counting, Julian Assange has not experienced true freedom. We’re now just a week away from a decision on his final UK court appeal, where he faces up to 175 years in prison over 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse. We know that his life is at risk. His lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, recently said:

Because of the treatment he has suffered, he suffers a major depressive illness, he has been diagnosed as being on the [autism] spectrum, and the medical evidence is if he was extradited to the United States those conditions would cause him to commit suicide. So his life is at risk and I am not exaggerating that.

I joined this group because of my ongoing concerns about the treatment that he has endured over the past decade. While there are, as we’ve heard, a range of views about the actions of Mr Assange and WikiLeaks which can be debated, at the end of the day it’s no longer the point. What I can say is that the ongoing prosecution of Mr Assange offends my sense of natural justice, my sense of human dignity and my sense of fairness. He’s an Australian citizen who has endured terrible conditions and has suffered significant mental and physical challenges as a result of his ongoing incarceration due to the lengthy legal battle.

It’s not clear to me that Mr Assange committed any crime in the jurisdiction of the United States, and the pursuit of him by American authorities even now is an overreach and does not serve the interests of justice. Even if Mr Assange were guilty of a crime, which I’m not sure is true, and there were due punishment, hasn’t he already served that punishment? Surely he has paid that price and has suffered enough. It is worth noting that the person who gathered the information published by WikiLeaks, Chelsea Manning, has been free for the past seven years. Is it not ultimately a matter of fairness? The ongoing prosecution and, indeed, persecution of Mr Assange does not serve the interests of justice or human dignity. He ought to be released from custody and allowed to return to Australia with his family.

I echo the words of fellow parliamentary group member the member for Bruce, who has said:

There can never be a legal solution to this case. It is inherently political.

I also agree with barrister Greg Barns SC, adviser to the Australian Assange Campaign, who said:

Of course, some say the Assange case must be allowed to take its course via the courts because extradition is a legal process. While that is true in the vast majority of cases this is an exceptional set of circumstances. In that sense it is like the case of David Hicks … Rightly that case was resolved via the political relationship between the Howard government here and the Bush Administration because it too was a case infused with a political overlay.

Now is the time to end a dangerous threat to basic freedoms and the rule of law.

We have previously managed to secure the safe return of Australian citizens under difficult diplomatic circumstances, and we have a responsibility to do the same for Mr Assange.

I called on the previous government to step up and stand up to bring Mr Assange home, and I am pleased that his case now has some bipartisan support from the leaders of both parties, who acknowledge that enough is enough. And I acknowledge that there has been work to lobby the US government. Our group had a constructive meeting with Ambassador Caroline Kennedy last year to discuss the case. I also thank parliamentary colleagues who undertook a trip to the US last year to make direct representation to our US counterparts. Prior to this trip more than 60 colleagues across the political divide signed a letter of support explicitly calling on the US to drop the prosecution of Assange. The letter said:

It serves no purpose, it is unjust, and we say clearly—as friends should always be honest with friends—that the prolonged pursuit of Mr Assange wears away at the substantial foundation of regard and respect that Australians have for the justice system of the United States of America.

Surely we can all agree that we do not want to see an Australian citizen continue to languish in a foreign prison. Enough is enough.


Mr BANDT 
(Melbourne—Leader of the Australian Greens) (17:10): I rise to support this motion regarding Julian Assange and I commend the member for Clark and all those other members who have been involved in bringing this motion before this place. Unfortunately it is not the first time that this parliament has had to move and push to ensure that Julian Assange is brought home. But it is perhaps more critical now than ever that we speak, hopefully with one voice, to make it clear that it is time to bring Julian Assange home.

Julian Assange is a brave Australian whistleblower and journalist. He’s been locked in the UK’s notorious Belmarsh prison since April 2019, largely in solitary confinement, having never faced trial or been convicted. And of course that follows years spent in the embassy. The offence he is charged with, ultimately, is telling the public the truth about the appalling conduct of the US military in the illegal invasion of Iraq. I want to say a bit more about that in a moment, but, as other speakers have drawn attention to, one of the most pressing issues at the moment is Julian Assange’s health and what is facing him over the coming days and potentially over the coming years.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment visited Julian in May 2019 and even at that stage reported serious concerns about his detention and his health. Now, years later, we have a situation where the very next thing that might happen to Julian Assange is his transport to the United States. And let’s be clear that, given Julian’s health, any sentence of imprisonment under the notorious US Espionage Act and extradition to the US would almost certainly be a death sentence. It cannot be allowed to come to that. That is a large part of the reason you see so many people from across the political spectrum saying it has gone on for far too long. He is now facing a grave risk to his life because it has gone on for far too long. That is why the critical next step must be to ensure that Julian Assange is brought home.

As to the fundamental matters that underlie the whole reason for his incarceration and his imprisonment, it’s that he’s on trial for telling the truth. As a result of the 2010 and 2011 work of Wikileaks, media organisations around the world published information that showed that US military operations engaged in attacks on civilians and other atrocities, including images that we must never forget, like the chilling video now known as Collateral Murder. Chelsea Manning, a former US soldier who was involved in leaking many of these classified documents, has already been released from prison after their sentence was commuted by former US President Obama. But Julian remains locked up.

There is global support for Julian Assange to be returned home, and this is particularly strong in Australia, as it should be. He has become symbolic of journalists around the world who face attacks on press freedom, often shrinking government accountability and, in some jurisdictions, persecution ranging from political prosecutions through to murder. As the member for Clark ably said before, this sets an incredibly chilling precedent for journalists in the future and for journalists’ ability to hold governments to account, to say uncomfortable things about governments—things that might be uncomfortable for their own government—and to know that you can tell the truth without facing imprisonment and without facing a risk to your own life.

I will also note that prime minister after prime minister in this place has signed Australia up to AUKUS, an arrangement that, in our view, is one where Australia fronts up with a chequebook and does what it’s told to do by the other partners. If governments think that participation in the AUKUS agreement and alliance is so critical, surely part of that should be the insistence on human rights and the proper treatment of our citizens—of Australian citizens. If we are sitting around a table with these governments, we should be able to insist that Julian Assange is brought home.

I commend this motion to the House. I acknowledge the work of the parliamentary friends of Assange group. Let’s join together today and say clearly: bring Julian Assange home.

The SPEAKER:  The question is that the motion be agreed to.

Ayes: 86 Noes: 42

Voting For (86)

  • Albanese, A. N.
  • Aly, A.
  • Ananda-Rajah, M.
  • Archer, B. K.
  • Bandt, A. P.
  • Bates, S. J.
  • Bowen, C. E.
  • Broadbent, R. E.
  • Burke, A. S.
  • Burnell, M. P.
  • Burney, L. J.
  • Burns, J.
  • Butler, M. C.
  • Byrnes, A. J.
  • Chalmers, J. E.
  • Chandler-Mather, M.
  • Chaney, K. E.
  • Charlton, A. H. G.
  • Chesters, L. M.
  • Clare, J. D.
  • Claydon, S. C.
  • Coker, E. A.
  • Collins, J. M.
  • Conroy, P. M.
  • Daniel, Z.
  • Doyle, M. J. J.
  • Dreyfus, M. A.
  • Elliot, M. J.
  • Fernando, C.
  • Freelander, M. R.
  • Garland, C. M. L.
  • Georganas, S.
  • Giles, A. J.
  • Gorman, P.
  • Haines, H. M.
  • Hill, J. C.
  • Husic, E. N.
  • Jones, S. P.
  • Kearney, G. M.
  • Keogh, M. J.
  • Khalil, P.
  • King, C. F.
  • King, M. M. H.
  • Lawrence, T. N.
  • Laxale, J. A. A.
  • Le, D.
  • Leigh, A. K.
  • Marles, R. D.
  • Mascarenhas, Z. F. A.
  • McBain, K. L.
  • McBride, E. M.
  • Miller-Frost, L. J.
  • Mitchell, R. G.
  • Mulino, D.
  • Neumann, S. K.
  • O’Connor, B. P. J.
  • O’Neil, C. E.
  • Payne, A. E.
  • Perrett, G. D.
  • Phillips, F. E.
  • Rae, S. T.
  • Reid, G. J.
  • Repacholi, D. P.
  • Rishworth, A. L.
  • Roberts, T. G.
  • Rowland, M. A.
  • Ryan, J. C.
  • Ryan, M. M.
  • Scamps, S. A.
  • Scrymgour, M. R.
  • Shorten, W. R.
  • Sitou, S.
  • Smith, D. P. B.
  • Spender, A. M.
  • Stanley, A. M.
  • Steggall, Z.
  • Templeman, S. R.
  • Thistlethwaite, M. J.
  • Thwaites, K. L.
  • Tink, K. J.
  • Vamvakinou, M.
  • Watson-Brown, E.
  • Watts, T. G.
  • Wilkie, A. D.
  • Wilson, J. H.
  • Zappia, A.

Voting Against (42)

  • Andrews, K. L.
  • Birrell, S. J.
  • Buchholz, S.
  • Caldwell, C. M.
  • Chester, D. J.
  • Coleman, D. B.
  • Coulton, M. M.
  • Dutton, P. C.
  • Fletcher, P. W.
  • Gillespie, D. A.
  • Hamilton, G. R.
  • Hastie, A. W.
  • Hogan, K. J.
  • Landry, M. L.
  • Leeser, J.
  • Ley, S. P.
  • Littleproud, D.
  • Marino, N. B.
  • McCormack, M. F.
  • McIntosh, M. I.
  • O’Brien, E. L.
  • Pasin, A.
  • Pearce, G. B.
  • Pike, H. J.
  • Pitt, K. J.
  • Price, M. L.
  • Ramsey, R. E.
  • Stevens, J.
  • Sukkar, M. S.
  • Taylor, A. J.
  • Tehan, D. T.
  • Thompson, P.
  • van Manen, A. J.
  • Vasta, R. X.
  • Violi, A. A.
  • Wallace, A. B.
  • Ware, J. L.
  • Webster, A. E.
  • Wilson, R. J.
  • Wolahan, K.
  • Wood, J. P.
  • Young, T. J.

Read original posting in Hansard and
further Commentary in
The Washington Post (US) – Australian Parliament wants WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange back home, not sent to US
Anadolu Agency (Turkey) – ‘It is time Julian Assange was brought home,’ reiterates Australian premier
BBC (UK) – Australian politicians call for release of WikiLeaks founder
AL Jazeera – ‘Enough is enough’: Australian PM denounces US, UK legal pursuit of Assange


Rules for Video Access to Julian’s Feburary 2024 Appeal

On the 1st February 2024 the UK Courts and Tribunals Judiciary published these directions for video access

Before:
President Of The King’s Bench Division and Mr Justice Johnson

Between:
Julian Paul Assange
-v-
Government Of The United States Of America
-v-
Secretary Of State For The Home Department
(Interested Party)


Order

UPON the appellant’s renewed application for permission to appeal being listed on 20 and 21 February 2024
AND UPON the court receiving requests to attend the hearing by video link, and anticipating that further requests will be received before the hearing

It is ordered that:

  1. If the parties wish to make any representations about the way in which the court should treat requests to attend the hearing made under paragraph 3 below, those representations must be filed with the court by 4pm on 9 February 2024.
  2. Any person may, with the written permission of an employee of HMCTS (which shall only be granted after approval by the court), observe the proceedings by way of an audio-visual link.
  3. Any person seeking such written permission shall send the request to listoffice@administrativecourtoffice.justice.gov.uk by 4pm on 15 February 2024.
  4. Any person (“the applicant”) seeking permission under paragraph 3 above, shall include in their request:
    (a) the full name of the applicant;
    (b) the email address of the applicant;
    (c) information as to whether the applicant would be located within the jurisdiction of England and Wales at all times when attending the Hearing remotely (if a transmission direction were to be made); and, if not, details of the applicant’s location;
    (d) any information the applicant wishes to provide in support of the request, including in particular any reason(s) why it is contended that making such a direction would be in the interests of justice; and
    (e) a statement by the applicant in the following terms:
    “I agree and undertake to the Court that, if permitted to attend the Hearing remotely, I will not make a recording, capture images, and/or broadcast any part of the proceedings. I understand that to do so may be an offence and/or contempt of court, punishable by imprisonment and/or a fine. I will abide by any directions given to me by the Court during the Hearing. I agree and undertake to the Court that I will not provide the link that I am given to access the Hearing to any other person.”
  5. A request for permission that is not made by the deadline imposed by this Order and/or does not comply with paragraph 4 of this Order may be refused.
  6. All those who are provided with a link t observe the proceedings shall be provided with a copy of this order.
  7. Each such observer shall ensure that nobody else is able to hear or view the proceedings via the link unless that person has first identified themselves to the court and has been provided with permission by the court to view the link.
  8. Each observer may only access the link from within the United Kingdom unless the observer has been given permission, in writing, by a member of HMCTS staff to observe the proceedings from outside the United Kingdom (in which case they may only access the link from that location).
  9. Each observer shall, as a condition of continued access:
    (a) keep their camera turned off, and ensure that they are muted (unless instructed otherwise)
    (b) conduct themselves appropriately and in particular in accordance with any instructions of the judges and/or court staff for persons observing the proceedings (remembering that they will be treated as if they were physically present in the courtroom).
  10. Transmission via the link is dependent on the link being activated at least 5 minutes before the proceedings start, so that information may be provided by the court staff before proceedings start.
  11. This direction may be varied or revoked at any time and without notice by further direction of the court.
  12. Any party who wishes to vary or set aside this direction may do so on written application.
  13. Costs in the case.
    Important note: See the attached rules for those who observe proceedings remotely. If you do not obey the rules then that might amount to a criminal offence or a contempt of court which may be punished by imprisonment.
    GDPR: Your personal data will be processed for the purposes of facilitating your attendance at the hearing, ensuring that the proceedings are conducted without disruption, and enforcing the applicable laws and directions, including those requiring orderly behaviour during proceedings, prohibiting live text-based communication from court, and the making of audio-visual recordings. They will not be used for any other purposes, and will not be kept on file for longer than is necessary for those purposes.

Reasons:

(A) The Court anticipates that there is likely to be interest from media representatives and members of the public in attending remotely the hearing that is due to commence for 2 days on 20-21 February 2024. To manage the process, we have set out a procedure whereby anyone who wishes to attend the hearing remotely can make a transmission direction request.

(B) The court will not normally grant a transmission direction request in respect of an applicant who will not be in England and Wales during the Hearing. Anyone making a transmission direction request who will not be in England and Wales should provide information (pursuant to paragraph 4(d) above) as to why it would nevertheless be in the interests of justice to make a transmission direction order in his/her case.

(C) Late requests, because they cause disruption to the Court’s work are likely to be refused, unless there are compelling reasons why the applicant was unable to comply with the Court’s directions.

Dated this 1st day of February 2024


Rules for third-party observers (public hearing)

You are being given remote access to a public court hearing. The judiciary and court service are committed to open justice. This is subject to five simple rules to protect the court process.

  1. Do not share your link without permission. The link must only be used by someone else if that has been approved by the court.
  2. Behave respectfully. A court hearing is a serious matter. Behave as if you were in a physical court room. Do not disturb or interrupt. Follow any instructions of the judge. Your access may be terminated if you do not.
  3. Do not record the hearing. It is a criminal offence to record a court hearing. You must not record video or audio or take photos or screenshots of the hearing.
  4. If you want to report, take care. You can report live in writing if you are a journalist or you have the specific permission of the Judge conducting the hearing. Otherwise, reports must be after the event. In all cases there may be reporting restrictions which you must obey. It is your responsibility to find out whether restrictions apply.
  5. Take all these rules seriously. If you break them you might not just lose your access. You might be guilty of an offence or contempt of court for which you could be fined or sent to prison for up to 2 years.

To make sure these rules are followed we advise you to
• find somewhere private to join the hearing
• turn off your microphone and camera
• switch off any other device, unless you have permission to use it
• check whether reporting restrictions apply

Reference original article at judiciary.uk

Paul Gosar : United States ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange

On the 13th December 2023, Rep. Paul Gosar ( Republican Arizona) referred a bill to the House Committee on the Judiciary of the United States Congress

Paul Gosar ( from United States Congress Web Site )

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that regular journalistic activities are protected under the First Amendment, and that the United States ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange.

The Bill reads

Refer United States Congress web site for current status

Refers :
James P. McGovern,
Thomas Massie,
Marjorie Taylor Greene,
Anna Paulina Luna,
Eric Burlison,
Jeff Duncan,
Ilhan Omar,
Clay Higgins.

The RESOLUTION READS

Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that regular journalistic activities are protected under the First Amendment, and that the United States ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange.

Whereas regular journalistic activities, including the obtainment and publication of information, are protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States;

Whereas, in 2010, WikiLeaks, a media organization established by Julian Assange, published a cache of hundreds of thousands of pieces of information including Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs, State Department cables, rules of engagement files, and other United States military reports;

Whereas the disclosure of this information promoted public transparency through the exposure of the hiring of child prostitutes by Defense Department contractors, friendly fire incidents, human rights abuses, civilian killings, and United States use of psychological warfare;

Whereas, in 2018, Mr. Assange was charged with one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) for alleged conspiracy to help a United States Army intelligence analyst access Defense Department computers without authorization;

Whereas the charge under the CFAA was despite the fact that said intelligence analyst already had access to the mentioned computer, that the purported breaching of the Defense Department computers was impossible, and that there was no proof Mr. Assange had any contact with said intelligence analyst;

Whereas, in 2019, Mr. Assange was charged with an additional 17 counts under the Espionage Act for alleged obtainment and disclosure of classified national defense information;

Whereas no other publisher had ever been prosecuted under the Espionage Act prior to these 17 charges;

Whereas Mr. Assange could face up to 175 years behind bars, effectively a death sentence, for these charges;

Whereas, in 2019, Mr. Assange was arrested by the London Metropolitan Police for an outstanding warrant and is currently being held at HM Prison Belmarsh while he battles the United States request that the United Kingdom extradite him;

Whereas the successful prosecution of Mr. Assange under the Espionage Act would set a precedent allowing the United States to prosecute and imprison journalists for First Amendment protected activities, including the obtainment and publication of information, something that occurs on a regular basis;

Whereas First Amendment freedom of the press is essential to promote public transparency and is a crucial safeguard for our Republic;

Whereas numerous human rights, press freedom, and privacy rights advocates and organizations have disclosed their sincere and steadfast support for Mr. Assange; and

Whereas at least 70 Senators and Members of Parliament from Australia, a critical United States ally and Mr. Assange’s native country, support actions that would allow Mr. Assange to return home: Now, therefore be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the House of Representatives that—

(1) regular journalistic activities, including the obtainment and publication of information are protected under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States;

(2) First Amendment freedom of the press promotes public transparency and is crucial for the American Republic;

(3) the Federal Government ought to drop all charges against and attempts to extradite Julian Assange; and

(4) the Federal Government allow Julian Assange to return home to his native Australia if he so desires.

Barnaby Joyce MP Warns Australian Parliament on the Extraterritorial Precedent of Julian’s Extradition

On 28th November 2023, Barnaby Joyce Nationals MP for New England, addressed Australian Parliament on the dangers of the extraterritorial precedent of the extradition of Julian Assange

Mr JOYCE  (New England) (16:23):

I would like to follow on from the member for Makin and also acknowledge Gabriel Shipton, who’s here today. There are very few things that draw together people from both sides of the political fence, whether it’s the Greens; Alex Antic; Tony Zappia—we’ve known each other for a long time and worked together—the Nationals; the Labor Party; the Liberal Party; the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese; or Peter Dutton, but this issue has done that. It’s time that this issue is resolved and brought to a conclusion. I acknowledge that Gabriel Shipton is Julian Assange’s brother, but I’m not here to give warrant to Mr Assange did—not for one second. But I am saying that extraterritoriality is an incredibly dangerous precedent. I’ll say, for the Australian people, that—and not to go through the details, which the member for Makin has done—Julian Assange was not a US citizen.

Julian Assange did not commit a crime in Australia. In fact, he got a Walkley Award for it. Julian Assange was never in the US when any offence that the US has nominated was committed.

So we are sending a person to a third country on the behest of a third country because of their domestic laws. Once you start agreeing to do that, it’s only a matter of time before the Chinese government says, ‘We’ve got a few people in Australia we want you to send to China.’ If someone offends a religion in another part of the world, they’ll say, ‘You should send those people to us as well.’ How are you going to argue against that when you have given credibility to what is happening here? For the US, how are they going to justify their position when they are part and parcel of this? I’ve said before that Australia has been a good neighbour to the US, and, with Mr Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, who most definitely committed offences in Australia—most definitely—we haven’t called for their extradition back to Australia. If we did, they would go to jail for quite a while.

So I ask something of those in the United States. I know the Prime Minister of Australia has now been to the US. I’m not going to delve into what discussions the Prime Minister may or may not have had, but I want to reinforce to the people of the United States and the government of the United States our great respect for their nation but our displeasure that this issue continues on. It needs to be resolved. This carbuncle in the relationship needs to be removed. We have bigger fish to fry. There are bigger issues out there for us to deal with. This issue needs to be put aside.

I want to also acknowledge the great work done by the delegation with Tony Zappia, Alex Antic, Peter Whish-Wilson, Monique Ryan and David Shoebridge—I’m forgetting some more. I thank them for their work. The support will continue on.

Refer original coverage in Hansard

Recent articles covering Mr Joyce’s support for Julian :
Australian Financial Review

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.

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Greg Barnes : UK Rwanda Ruling is Relevant to Julian’s Extradition

On the 23rd November 2023, Greg Barnes, legal advisor to the Australian Assange Campaign issued a press statement on the ruling in the recent Rwandan deportation case.

Recently the UK Supreme Court ruled against the government’s policy of forcibly removing asylum seekers to Rwanda.  The decision is very relevant to Julian’s case because the Court said that the government had failed to look at the real risk of harm to people if they were sent to Rwanda.  The Court was also highlighted the problem with the UK government relying on assurances, – like the US Diplomatic Notes accepted by the court in the US appeal against Julian’s release in October 2021 – and indicated they were problematic, from a rule of law perspective, as a commitment which was not able to be enforced in a court.

Greg Barnes

For a detailed analysis read Craig Murray’s analysis on Znetwork