Australian leader refuses to publicly intervene on Assange

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese on Monday rejected calls for him to publicly demand that the US stop its persecution of WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange.

The Australian government is under increasing pressure to intervene since last week the British government ordered Assange’s extradition to the US on charges of espionage.

Assange’s supporters and lawyers say his actions were protected by the US Constitution.

Albanese, who came to power in the election a month ago, declined to say whether he spoke with President Joe Biden about the case.

“There are people who think that tweeting in all caps and with an exclamation mark somehow makes it more important. It’s not like that,” Albanese told reporters.

“I intend to lead a government that engages diplomatically and appropriately with our partners,” Albanese added.

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus and Foreign Secretary Penny Wong reacted to the British government’s decision by saying that “the Assange case has dragged on too long and … must be brought to a close.”

They said they would continue to express this view to the UK and US governments, but their joint statement did not call for the US to drop the case.

Assange’s supporters calling for Australian government intervention include his wife, Stella Assange.

“The Australian government can and should talk to its closest ally to close this issue,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Bob Carr, who was foreign secretary when Albanese’s centre-left Labor Party was last in power in 2012 and 2013, wrote in an article in The Sydney Morning Herald on Monday that Australia’s request to stop prosecuting Assange was “a small bargaining chip in Australian politics. defense alliance with the United States.

U.S. prosecutors allege Assange helped U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning steal secret diplomatic cables and military files later released by WikiLeaks, endangering people’s lives.

Carr noted that Manning’s sentence was commuted in 2017. “Looks like one rule for the Americans, another for the citizens of their ally,” Carr wrote.

Carr told AuBC that Assange’s US trial “will ignite anti-Americanism in Australia in ways we haven’t seen.”

He said it was not in the “interest of either country” to be hostile to the Australian-American alliance.
Assange’s lawyers plan to appeal, extending the process for months or even years.

His wife, Stella Assange, said her husband was being targeted for exposing war crimes and abuses of power.
“The only goal here is to free Julian because this has been going on since 2010. He has been in prison for more than three years, and the case against him is a parody,” said Stella Assange.

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