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Australian PM urges freedom for Assange

“Nothing is served” by the publisher’s continued imprisonment in the UK, Anthony Albanese has argued

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has reiterated his call for Julian Assange to be released from a top security British prison, where the WikiLeaks founder has been incarcerated for over five years.

Australian citizen Assange is fighting a US extradition request stemming from his cooperation with whistleblower Chelsea Manning. His defense team scored a legal victory on Monday, when the High Court in London granted a request for a new appeal against the 2021 decision by the UK to hand Assange over to the US for trial.

Speaking to journalists in Sydney on Tuesday, Albanese said his position on the case has remained unchanged since before he was elected in 2022.

“Enough is enough,” the prime minister stated. “There’s nothing to be served by the ongoing incarceration of Mr. Assange.” Albanese further vowed to “continue to work very closely to achieve that outcome.”

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British justices have allowed Assange another day in court after the US failed to provide sufficient guarantees that his rights would not be violated in American custody. His lawyers are particularly worried that their client would be denied contact with the outside world if kept in a US prison.

The UK arrested the publisher in 2019, after Ecuador revoked his political asylum and allowed police to seize him at its embassy in London. The American charges against Assange were revealed only after he was put in jail for skipping bail in another case.

Assange was indicted under the US Espionage Act and may face effective life imprisonment if convicted. His supporters say Washington is persecuting the publisher for exposing the American government’s dirty secrets, including alleged war crimes.

In February, the Australian parliament adopted a resolution calling for the repatriation of the transparency activist. The document was meant as a political signal to the governments of the US and the UK ahead of a hearing at the High Court, after which additional guarantees of fair treatment were requested from the American side. Albanese, who is also an MP, voted for the motion.

 

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