The Support Assange and WikiLeaks coalition released the statement below on February 14.
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Linda Pearson, spokesperson for the Support Assange & WikiLeaks Coalition, announced today that Jennifer Robinson, Julian Assange’s principal lawyer, will attend a public forum at 6pm on Friday, 17 February at the University of Technology, Sydney.
“The Australian government must intervene in the Obama administration’s attempts to have Julian Assange arrested,” Pearson said. “They must defend Julian Assange’s civil rights. Why are the rights of another Australian citizen being sacrificed in the name of the US-Australian alliance?
“Has the Gillard government learnt nothing from the anger Australians felt towards the Howard government for ignoring the fate of David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib?
“Australians drew the conclusion that the Howard government would never risk offending the Americans to defend the rights of Australian citizens. We all expected a Labor government would have a bit more spine.
“The US Vice-President called Julian Assange a ‘type of high–tech terrorist’, yet we have no confidence that the Australian government has made any representation to the US government in defence of his rights.
“This is a case of political persecution, played out in the courts. A political representation calling on the US government to abide by their own constitution and support the rights of journalists to protect their sources and encourage freedom of the press would have a real effect on his case.
“We need real political and diplomatic pressure to ensure Julian Assange is not extradited to the US or to Sweden.”
Lawyer Jennifer Robinson will give an overview of the appeal to the UK Supreme Court at the Friday forum. The result of the UK Supreme Court appeal is expected in early March.
If not successful, it is possible that Julian Assange could be removed to Sweden within 10 days. It is feared by WikiLeaks supporters that he could be transferred from Sweden to the US, with no judicial proceedings at all, to face espionage charges like those brought by the Obama administration against US whistleblowers.
The Australian Prime Minister has made no public comment about Julian Assange’s case for 12 months, despite the news coverage of his case and the remarkable decision of the UK Supreme Court to hear his appeal on the validity of the European arrest warrant.
In that time, WikiLeaks under Mr Assange’s leadership has won a Walkley award for its outstanding contribution to journalism. The response of the Gillard government to that award is conspicuous in its absence.
Pearson said: “Why has the government failed to make any overtures to the Swedish government or to the UK government? You would have to ask what is the worth of an Australian passport."
The Support Assange and WikiLeaks Coalition has organised the public forum on the case to raise public awareness of the issues and bring political pressure to bear on the Gillard government.
The panel features:
Christine Assange, Julian’s mother
Humphrey McQueen, historian
Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens Senator
Broadcaster and journalist Mary Kostakidis will chair proceedings.