If the Australian government chose to end the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange they could do it now, because it has no basis at law - UK law, international law, and even American law. "The Australian Government could end this tomorrow." Barrister Greg Barns to Leigh Sales, ABC 7.30 Report
This article was previously entitled "The Secret Trials of Julian Assange."
Barrister Greg Barns: "The Australian Government could end this tomorrow"
Barrister Greg Barns, an advisor to the Australian Assange campaign, spoke to Leigh Sales on the 7.30 Report of 14 December 2021.
LEIGH SALES: Julian Assange is an Australian citizen. Is there any part the Australian Government has to play in this?
GREG BARNS: Absolutely. They could end this tomorrow. They could speak to their Washington counterparts. It’s a point that Bob Carr has made in the past. They could speak to the UK and they could end this matter. We saw it, as you know, in the David Hicks matter. It’s not unprecedented, and it ought to happen.
LEIGH SALES: Australian authorities say that Australia isn’t a party to this case.
GREG BARNS: But that doesn’t matter. I mean Australia wasn’t a party to the David Hicks matter, and yet, it moved - when it had to - to ensure that Hicks could come back to Australia and not be left in Guantanamo Bay. It can do the same thing again. I mean, a lot of these extradition cases are political, and this is one.
LEIGH SALES: Well, I was just going to make the point that the thing that finally prompted the action in that case, 15 or so years ago, was political pressure. It wasn’t any kind of diplomatic or legal realization on the part of the government. Is there enough political momentum around the Assange case, to have the same effect?
GREG BARNS: I think it’s building. I think the revelations about his having a minor stroke over the past few weeks builds pressure. I saw two very strong editorials in the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age today, which I think is building pressure on the government. I’ve actually been doing some media in New Zealand today, and there’s some pressure in New Zealand for Jacinta Adern to offer him asylum. So, I think Australia can no longer sit on its hands and say, “Oh, it’s consular assistance.” It has to get involved in this case.
Due process has not been served
Contrary to Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne’s assurances that due process would be served, Julian Assange’s defence team has not been allowed to properly present its evidence and it has not been allowed to properly cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses. Much of the evidence presented by the prosecution had already been revealed to have been fabricated, but the UK Courts have upheld the US Government appeal to extradite Assange.
This ruling allows the United States to extradite from Britain, any journalist, any person, who publicly reveals evidence of its past war crimes, to be tried in the Eastern District of Virginia for alleged violation of the 1917 Espionage Act. None among the public-spirited people who have revealed US war crimes - Daniel Hale, John Kiriakou, Chelsea Manning – tried by this court has ever been found ‘not guilty’; all have been convicted. This is not surprising, because the US is unlikely to admit its own guilt as it sits in judgement on its own crimes. This would be like asking Hitler to sit in judgement on crimes committed within the Nazi extermination camps.
If Julian Assange is extradited, or if his imprisonment continues indefinitely, this would provide a precedent for the United States to similarly persecute other journalists with evidence about United States plans for future wars against Venezuela, Syria, Iran, China, and Russia - among the most likely - to also be extradited.
British courts happy to release Assange to imprisonment by violent criminals
The US won its appeal by apparently assuring the British Court that it would treat Assange humanely. This means, absurdly and horribly, that the Court has entrusted with Assange’s well-being a government that had planned to kill or kidnap him in 2017, even before it had issued any indictment against him.
Lawyers and other prominent supporters of Julian Assange wrote to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on 30 September 2021, asking him what the Australian Government knew of these plans, of the electronic and other illicit monitoring of Assange and his lawyers' communications, and whether any of the signatories had also been placed on the 'speculative kill list.'
Why has Julian Assange not been tried before a jury?
Why has Julian Assange not been tried before a jury? That is his right under British, Australian, and US law. It is a right denied to many, despite the law, and that makes Julian’s case all the more important. He stands for any of us who would stand up against corrupt power and then be denied justice, in a virtually secret trial, without a jury of our peers, presided over by professional representatives of faceless unaccountable powers. It is however extraordinary that Julian Assange has not had the benefit of a jury trial, given his huge international profile and the colossal issues at stake. How he is dealt with is of great interest to the world.
Assange has been imprisoned for reporting international war crimes and the secret dealings of the governments that cover up those crimes – notably the most powerful government of them all – the United States.
The fact that the British and United States Governments have been so anxious to try Assange without a jury, and in a British Court with a tiny public gallery, and restricted media access, now readying him to be transported to a quasi-military court, shows us that they will do anything to avoid scrutiny. These are the actions of guilty governments.
And that’s the most powerful reason to support Julian Assange and release him from his dungeon in Belmarsh Prison, so that journalists and other members of the public may continue to hold the powerful to account, without fearing anything like what Julian has suffered already.
Remember, were the Australian government to act to end the illegal imprisonment and torture of Julian Assange, they could do it now. Contact your parliamentarian now and ask him or her what they have done to support Julian Assange. Let us know the response.