Supporters pledge rallies, protests to defend Assange
The Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition released the statement below on June 15.
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has lost his final British appeal against extradition and will be sent by force to Sweden within a matter of days. Australians are taking to the streets to demand the Australian government act immediately to prevent the injustice and harm facing Assange.
In Sweden, Assange will be held in pre-trial detention indefinitely, incommunicado and in solitary confinement for up to 23 hours a day.
“Our government has refused to request that Sweden grant Assange bail”, said Linda Pearson, spokesperson for the Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition. “This is an outrage considering he is only wanted for questioning and has not been charged with any offence.”
Once Assange is in Sweden, it’s feared that the US government will use the “temporary surrender” arrangement between the two countries to seek Assange’s extradition.
“Assange will likely face charges of espionage or conspiracy by a government intent on revenge”, said Pearson. “But his only ‘crime’ is publishing the truth.”
Australians are concerned that their government’s conduct indicates support for US intentions. “They have not only refused to defend Julian Assange, they have actively given the Australian public false and misleading information”, said Pearson. “Gillard called the work of WikiLeaks and Assange ‘illegal’. Nicola Roxon said he ‘fled Sweden’ joined the Prime Minister in smearing Assange and foreign minister Bob Carr has repeatedly misled the Australian people about the level of consular assistance being given to Assange.”
The Gillard government continues to insist that they can do no more to assist Assange, as this would constitute interference in the legal processes of another country.
However, human rights lawyer Jennifer Robinson has pointed out: “It is within Australia’s diplomatic rights and international law rights to seek an assurance that the US not prosecute Assange … The Australian government could be asking this, and they’re not.”
With the wellbeing of a fellow citizen and the freedom of the press at stake, Australians will be doing what their government has failed to, and demonstrating their mass support for Assange.
Rallies are planned in towns and cities across Australia in the coming weeks. The next Sydney rally for Assange will be held at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, 123 Pitt St, CBD, Thursday 21 June at 5pm. Further rallies will be held across Australia on July 1.