Tasmania rallies for Julian Assange to be set free

May 23, 2024
Protesting for Julian Assange in Hobart. Photo: Karen Brown Photography

Supporters of Julian Assange organised rallies in Launceston and Hobart on May 19 and May 20 in the lead up to the British High Court’s decision on whether to grant him leave to appeal his extradition to the United States.

The court has ruled for grounds to appeal, however Assange remains in legal limbo in 2 by 3 metre cell, 23 hours a day, under solitary confinement, in London’s Belmarsh Prison.

Speakers at the Hobart and Launceston rallies included Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, Liberal MP Bridget Archer, Assange campaign advisor Greg Barns and Greens’ Senator Nick McKim.

They were joined by long-time human rights activist Peter Jones and public interest lawyer Vanessa Bleyer.

Assange’s ongoing ordeal was laid bare with speakers emphasising that, regardless of the court’s decision, the case must be abandoned.

A minute’s silence was observed at the Launceston rally, while a recording of Belmarsh Prison’s horror soundscape was played.

Whish-Wilson, in Launceston, compared Assange’s case to that of war crimes whistleblower David McBride who was sentenced for nearly five years.

“He exposed war crimes, but the war criminals — and we know some of them are war criminals because a civil court has determined that — still haven’t been thrown in jail.”

Wilkie argued that the Assange case sets a dangerous precedent for US extra-territorial reach and that it is “a breakdown of our understanding of justice and the rule of law”.

Whish-Wilson commended Liberal MP Bridget Archer for standing up for Assange during the Scott Morrison Coalition government.

Morrison held the view that Assange should “face the music” and be extradited the US. He was also known for his friendship with former CIA director and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a driving force to indict Assange under the former Donald Trump Administration.

Pompeo is accused of ordering “sketches to kidnap or kill” Assange. Morrison has recently accepted an advisory position in AUKUS investor DYNE Maritime, alongside alongside Pompeo.

Bleyer said Assange case is more political than legal: he has been imprisoned for 12 years, with the past 5 on remand in maximum-security prison.

Wilkie said the case “should have been resolved years ago”.

McKim said the Australian government must stand up to the British and US governments, adding, “the time for quiet diplomacy is passed”.

McKim warned that “if journalists go to jail for reporting in the public interest there is literally no way people like us can find out the truth”.

[Visit Tasmania 4 Assange or Launceston for Assange on Facebook and to reserve tickets to The Trust Fall at Launceston and Hobart Village Cinemas on May 29 at 6.30pm.]

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