Nils Melzer’s book about the persecution of Julian Assange – Nils Melzer, The Trial of Julian Assange, A story of persecution, must be heeded, due to Melzer’s extraordinary position and status as an independent international investigator and legal expert in complaints of torture and ill-treatment,  which has given him access to details and documents not previously available. That is probably why it is hard to get the book in Australia. Melzer has assessed Julian Assange’s treatment with the expertise that comes from visiting thousands of prisoners and refugees. He has tried to negotiate for Assange with the British Government using skills and experience acquired in palaces, ministries, command-centres, and with soldiers and rebels in the no-man’s-land between front lines. In the face of the contempt shown the law and human rights by the UK, the US and Sweden, by the end of this book, this highly placed man has become a whistleblower against the corrupt system himself. Read what he has to say about the way the Australian Government has conducted itself towards the most famous political prisoner in the world, Australian citizen, Julian Assange.
"Australia’s unwillingness to stand up for a politically persecuted national can only be described as shameful."
Throughout the Swedish extradition proceedings, from January 2011 to May 2012, Assange’s lawyers in London had repeatedly appealed in writing and in person to the Australian government, asking for diplomatic intervention to protect Assange. These appeals were transmitted through the Australian Embassy in Stockholm and the Australian High Commission in London, but also directly to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Justice Minister Nicola Roxon.
According to his lawyers, in Sweden, Assange faced not only many months of detention in near-complete isolation and a secret trial for alleged sexual offences, but also the risk of irregular surrender to the United States – a risk that could also materialize in the United Kingdom.
Their main request was always the same: the Australian government should urgently obtain assurances from both Sweden and the United Kingdom that Assange would not be extradited to the United States under any circumstances. There, influential individuals in public life had made death threats against him, and he risked a politically motivated trial for journalistic activities that should not be criminalized as espionage in the first place. Of particular concern, they argued, was not only the ‘excessive use of extreme isolation’ by US authorities, but also the prevailing practice of coercing guilty pleas and supporting testimony through the threat of enormous sentences in case of non-cooperation. For the same reasons, the lawyers also asked the Australian government for assurances that, if repatriated to Australia, Assange would not be extradited to the United States.
These letters triggered an intense internal discussion between ministries in Canberra, especially regarding Assange’s possible extradition to Sweden and onward surrender to the United States. Internal assessments were produced, emails went back and forth, and their content differed significantly from official government pronouncements.
This correspondence leaves no doubt that the Australian authorities were well aware of the risk of a ‘temporary surrender’ of Assange from Sweden to the United States for the purpose of criminal proceedings.
The Australian officials plainly attached no importance to the Swedish government’s assertions to the contrary. In the world of diplomatic relations, the fact that Stockholm refused to issue a non-refoulement guarantee to Assange spoke a clear language and left no room for misunderstandings.
Against this background, Australia’s unwillingness to stand up for a politically persecuted national can only be described as shameful.
The government’s official responses remain formalistic, self-righteous and sanctimonious, but in substantive terms completely distant and noncommittal.
The primary smokescreen deflecting from its manifest indifference is the claim that extradition proceedings are always a ‘matter of bilateral law enforcement cooperation’, governed by the domestic laws and practice of the states involved, in which Australia ‘would not expect to be a party’.
Nevertheless, the ‘expectation that Mr. Assange’s case will proceed in accordance with due process’ has been expressed to both the Swedish and British governments on several occasions.
If Assange were to return to Australia, it would be within the government’s discretion to refuse his extradition to the United States, but this would have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis, and no assurances could be given at this time. In effect, Assange’s lawyers rightly spoke of an Australian ‘Declaration of Abandonment’ – he had been discarded by his own government. [Melzer, Nils. The Trial of Julian Assange, Verso. Kindle Edition, pp. 216-217.]
Australian High Commission in London fails to attend trial, although seats reserved for them where most other observers excluded
In another section of the book Melzer describes how, in the evidence hearings from 7 September to 1st October 2020, the judge succeeded in excluding the public from her courtroom. Due to COVID-19, only five people were allowed in the public gallery, seated in one row. Two other rows remained empty. Three additional seats were reserved for Australian diplomatic representation in London - The Australian High Commission. These remained vacant throughout the entire hearing. [Melzer, Nils. The Trial of Julian Assange, Verso. Kindle Edition, P. 352.]
 Nils Melzer, The Trial of Julian Assange, Verso, Kindle Edition, London, 2022. Although one can belatedly get electronic copies, we are still waiting on a paperback version we ordered two weeks ago. The reason seems to be that there are no copies in Australia. All must be ordered from overseas. This is obviously yet another attempt to keep the Australian public naive about what is happening to Julian Assange and to press-freedom.
 Nils Melzer is a professor of international law at the University of Glasgow, Chair of Human Rights at Geneva Law Academy, a Red Cross delegate and legal advisor in war and crisis, as well as being the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights. “As the special rapporteur on torture, I am mandated by the United Nations Human Rights Council to monitor compliance with the prohibition of torture and ill-treatment worldwide, to examine allegations of violations, and to transmit queries and recommendations to the states concerned with a view to clarifying individual cases. I was entrusted with this important mandate because I have been dealing with violations of human rights and humanitarian law for more than twenty years, whether as a senior security policy advisor to my government, as a professor of international law and an expert author, or as a Red Cross delegate and legal advisor in contexts of war and crisis. I have visited thousands of prisoners, refugees and their loved ones on four continents, many of them victims of torture and violence. I have negotiated not only in palaces, ministries and command centres, but also with soldiers and rebels in the no-man’s-land between front lines.” [Melzer, Nils. The Trial of Julian Assange (p. 11). Verso. Kindle Edition.]