As Julian Assange seeks political asylum in Ecuador, concerned Australian citizens will protest their government’s treatment of the WikiLeaks founder in Sydney on Thursday June 21.
Assange is seeking asylum to protect him from extradition to the United States, “a country where espionage and treason are punished with the death penalty (http://uk NULL.reuters NULL.com/article/2012/06/19/uk-ecuador-assange-idUKBRE85I1UF20120619)“, and where prominent politicians have called for his assassination.
The Australian government has previously stated that it would not intervene (http://www NULL.smh NULL.com NULL.au/opinion/political-news/no-evidence-us-chasing-assange-roxon-20120530-1zioc NULL.html) to prevent the US extraditing Assange from either Sweden or the UK. It has also passed legislation (http://newmatilda NULL.com/2012/03/27/new-laws-target-wikileaks) which will make it easier for Assange to be extradited from Australia, should he ever return here.
As Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, has pointed out, his asylum application makes him “the first ever political refugee from our country going to another country”.
“It’s shameful that Julian Assange has been put in this position”, said Matt Watt, spokesperson of the Support Assange & WikiLeaks Coalition. “He is a courageous, multi-award winning journalist facing torture or worse in the US, and the Gillard government has done nothing to protect him.”
Assange’s asylum bid comes shortly after Foreign Minister, Bob Carr, visited Libya to personally lobby for the release (http://bobcarrblog NULL.wordpress NULL.com/2012/06/18/travel-to-libya-to-press-for-melinda-taylors-release/?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter) of Australian lawyer, Melinda Taylor. Carr has himself stated that Melinda Taylor’s employer, the International Criminal Court, breached protocols in Libya (http://www NULL.theaustralian NULL.com NULL.au/national-affairs/icc-apology-to-libya-will-free-detained-lawyer-melinda-taylor-says-bob-carr/story-fn59niix-1226400746909) and should apologise.
And last October, Prime Minister Gillard found time to make a reassuring personal telephone call (http://www NULL.smh NULL.com NULL.au/national/gillard-calls-bali-boy-to-offer-personal-support-in-drug-charge-fight-20111010-1lges NULL.html) to an Australian teenager charged with drug offences in Indonesia.
“Our government’s actions make a mockery of their claims about ‘consular assistance’”, said Mr Watt. “In doing the right thing by other Australians in trouble overseas they have highlighted the wrongs done to Assange, who has not been charged with any offence in any country.”
Protesters will be at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 123 Pitt St, Sydney, Thursday 21 June from 5pm. A vigil is being held in Brisbane (http://news NULL.smh NULL.com NULL.au/breaking-news-national/supporters-rally-in-brisbane-for-assange-20120620-20muv NULL.html) while Assange awaits the result of his asylum application.
For more information contact Matt Watt on 0409 463 786 or Cassie Findlay on 0412 355 899.