The Australian government is facing calls from its own Coalition bank and the opposition Labor Party to pressure the Trump administration to end the persecution of Julian Assange after a British court ruled out extradition of the WikiLeaks co-founder to U.S.
With the US government signaling that it plans to appeal the court’s ruling, Coalition MP George Christensen and South Australian independent senator Rex Patrick were among Assange supporters who saw a presidential pardon from Donald Trump as the best way to end the saga.
The Labor Party did not go so far as to ask for a pardon, but said the Australian government should “do everything possible to draw a line on this matter and encourage the US government to end it.”
A British judge ruled on Monday that Assange could not be extradited to the United States to face charges of spying and government hacking, on the grounds that he risked taking his life if kept in isolation.
But in issuing the ruling on health grounds, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser also rejected arguments that Assange would not get a fair trial in the United States. Assange is expected to file a new bail request on Wednesday.
Scott Morrison noted that the court’s decision was subject to appeal. The prime minister did not herald any new steps by the Australian government to close the matter in two interviews with radio hosts on Tuesday.
Morrison emphasized that the Australian government was not a party to the process, but would continue to offer consular assistance to its citizen.
“But, you know, assuming that if everything turns out [in his favour]So it’s like any other Australian. I’d be free to go home if I wanted to, ”Morrison told Melbourne radio station 3AW.
On Sydney radio station 2GB, Morrison described the current situation as “just a straightforward process of the UK legal system making its way.”
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said Australia “will continue to respect the ongoing legal process.”
In an implicit defense of Australia’s role in helping its citizens, Payne said: “We have made 19 offers of consular assistance to Mr Assange since 2019 that have not received a response. We will continue to offer consular support ”.
The Australian parliamentary friendship group “Bring Julian Assange Home” welcomed the British court’s decision to deny extradition to the United States as “a vital first step towards justice for Assange”.
But the group’s co-chairs, Christensen and independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie, called on the Australian government to rule out any possibility of Assange’s extradition from this country should he return to Australia.
“I also ask President Trump and the President-elect [Joe] Biden, let this be the end of the matter, ”Wilkie said.
“Julian Assange should be praised as a hero, not a villain.”
Christensen, who along with Wilkie visited Assange in Belmarsh prison last year, said she would continue her campaign to seek a presidential pardon for Assange from Trump. In his final weeks in office, Trump has issued a series of pardons, including for his political allies.
Echoing the kind of language Trump regularly uses to discredit public officials, Christensen said in a statement Tuesday: “Only a presidential pardon can guarantee that there will be no further action against Julian Assange by the Deep State apparatchiks installed in the bowels of the Justice of the United States. Department, and by those who hate Julian Assange in a possible Biden administration. “
Patrick, the independent SA senator, said the US government’s plan to appeal the decision “will mean that Assange, who has already spent two years in jail and another eight years in various forms of confinement, will remain locked up in a prison. British “. .
That included the time Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.
Patrick said the Morrison government “should heed the judge’s concern about Assange’s precarious situation and call on the UK government to end legal proceedings.”
“At the same time, Prime Minister Scott Morrison should be on the phone with President Trump to push for a presidential pardon for Julian,” Patrick said.
“A pardon would end the prosecution and extradition process of the United States and Assange would be free. Enough is enough.”
Shadow attorney general Mark Dreyfus said the Labor Party welcomed the court’s decision and believed “this has gone on for quite some time.”
“Given his poor health, the time has come to end this protracted case against Julian Assange,” Dreyfus said in a statement issued on behalf of the opposition.
“While the United States has the right to appeal the court’s decision, we ask the Morrison government to do everything possible to draw a line on this matter and to encourage the United States government to put an end to this matter.”
Dreyfus noted that Chelsea Manning, the US Army soldier convicted of leaking information to Assange, had her sentence commuted by outgoing President Barack Obama in January 2017.
Prosecutors argue that the 49-year-old Assange helped Manning violate the US Espionage Act, was complicit in computer hacking by others and published classified information that put informants in danger.
The case against Assange relates to WikiLeaks’ publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked documents about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as diplomatic cables, in 2010 and 2011.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism