After six and a half years illegal detention, the courageous and visionary Australian journalist Julian Assange, founder of the Wikileaks news service, has had his asylum inside the London Ecuadorian Embassy revoked and has been arrested by the British police to face trial for skipping bail back in 2012, a charge which he could only be jailed for a few years at most. However, there remains a serious risk that the United States could seek to have Julian Assange extradited to face, in its rigged judicial system, charges which have suspiciously remained secret until now: helping whistleblower Chelsea Manning crack a password to leak classified US documents.
See SEP (Australia) rallies demand freedom for Julian Assange (13/4/19) | WSWS for report of protest of Friday 12 April. -17/4/19: Protest Friday 4pm Victorian State Library in Melbourne and at 1pm in Martin Place, Sydney for Julian Assange: Bring yourself, friends, placards and any literature you may have to inform members of the public of why they need to act to help prevent the deportation to the United States, of Julian Assange, who is not even a United States citizen and has never been there!
On 5 February 2016 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found that Julian Assange had effectively been held in arbitrary detention inside the London Ecuadorian Embassy since October 2012 when he had first been granted political asylum there. This finding was reaffirmed in November 2016.
From October 2012 until May 2016, Julian Assange had been effectively in detention because the British government intended to allow Sweden to extradite him for ‘questioning’ - not to charge him - over rape allegations dating back to 2010. Had the Swedish government given an undertaking not to allow the US to extradite him, Julian Assange would have readily agreed to travel to Sweden, but the Swedish government refused to give such a guarantee.
The Swedish government also refused requests by Julian Assange to be interviewed inside the embassy. Only in May 2017, after the findings of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention were published, did a Swedish prosecutor finally make the effort to interview Assange inside the embassy. As a consequence, the prosecutor was forced to admit that Assange was not guilty of rape. Clearly the rape allegations were, just as Julian Assange had feared from the outset, a cynical ploy by ‘neutral’ Sweden to grab him, them hand him across to the U.S.
After Assange had been cleared of the Swedish rape allegations, British Prime Minister Cameron decided to issue the warrant to arrest him for the trivial charge of skipping bail back in 2012, after he had clearly endured far more incarceration than such a trivial offence could warrant. As the Swedish government did before him, Cameron refused to give an undertaking not to allow the U.S. to extradite him.
This arbitrary detention, now for six and a half years, is clearly illegal under international law and a denial of basic human rights to a man whom the Australian Federal Police had found in 2010 had committed no crime.
This is also a test-case of the Australian Government's respect and care for its citizens. It should have acted immediately to end Australian citizen Assange's illegal incarceration. It should have long ago demanded of the British and Swedish governments to guarantee not to allow Julian Assange to be extradited by the US to face the same fate of other courageous whistleblowers, including US Army Private Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou, formerly of the CIA.
Had such a guarantee not have been given, the Australian Government should have dispatched to London a contingent of Australian Federal Police to escort Julian Assange back to Australia.
Even now, it is not too late to act. As Assange has already served far more detention than is warranted by the charge of skipping bail, he should be released no sooner than when he is sentenced the court. After that the Federal Police should escort him to Heathrow Airport thence back to Australia.
How you can help
Attend the protest today (Friday 12 April) at 4:00pm at the State Library to demand the Australian government act;
Talk to friends and family about Julian Assange;
Ask your federal member, whether Government or Opposition, why he/she has failed to act in all this time to uphold international law in regard to Julian Assange;
Ask each candidate seeking your vote at the federal elections on 18 May, what he/she intends to do for Julian Assange if elected. Give your highest preference to those who give the best responses.