Australia should demand US release of Wikileaks founder

Britain’s Home Office announced on Friday that it would extradite Assange to the United States after consideration by the Magistrates Court and the High Court. Assange’s legal team has 14 days to appeal the decision to the High Court and will do so while he remains in Belmarsh prison.

The Assange debate has raged for more than a decade after WikiLeaks played a key role in exposing civilian deaths due to US military activity in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as US diplomatic cables.

Assange’s critics have cited the release of nearly 20,000 Democratic National Committee emails in 2016, as Hillary Clinton sought to defeat Donald Trump in the US presidential election, to argue that Assange was doing the job of Russia and its President, Vladimir Putin.

Green Senator Jordon Steele-John said Assange should be freed immediately.

“The extradition to the United States, the country whose war crimes Julian Assange exposed, sets a dangerous precedent for press freedom,” he said.

The Australian Doctors Reform Society condemned the UK government’s decision to extradite Assange, while Amnesty International Secretary General Agnes Callamard said the transfer to the US would send a ‘chilling’ message to journalists around the world entire.

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South Australian Senator Rex Patrick also called on Albanese to step up diplomatic efforts to pressure the US government to drop its extradition plan.

“Three years after his arrest for alleged espionage offenses against the United States, the prosecution of Julian Assange poses a major threat to press freedom around the world,” said Senator Patrick, who is finishing his term in office. Parliament on June 30.

“The UK Home Secretary’s decision to approve Mr. Assange’s extradition to the United States is another step down a long road that can only lead to personal tragedy and a serious blow to the freedom of the media in the world.”

“The response from Foreign Secretary Penny Wong and Attorney General Mark Dreyfus is patently inadequate and sounds too much like the despicably weak line taken by their predecessors.

Independent MP Monique Ryan has said it is time to bring Assange back to Australia as he faces punishment overseas for speaking truth to power.

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