The Support Assange and Wikileaks Coalition released this statement on December 7.
Wikileaks supporters in Sydney and Melbourne staged sit-ins in Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) buildings on December 7, to mark the second anniversary of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s detention without charge in Britain.
They demanded that the Australian government seek a guarantee from the US that Assange will not be subjected to prosecution there.
“It’s simple”, said Gail Malone, a member of the Sydney group. “We’re asking the Australian government to do its democratic duty and defend an Australian citizen from persecution by another state.”
The group delivered documents which prove that a criminal investigation into Assange and WikiLeaks is ongoing in the US. “Our government refuses to stand up to the US”, said Malone. "Instead, they feign ignorance regarding US intentions to prosecute Julian Assange.
“This is disingenuous, to say the least, as the proof is in DFAT’s own documents, along with numerous other official documents and statements on the public record by US officials and politicians.”
The group is concerned US prosecution of Assange would potentially criminalise all media organisations which routinely publish accurate, leaked government documents.
“This isn’t only about the welfare of one individual”, Malone said. “The prosecution of Julian Assange would be an unprecedented attack on free speech and freedom of the press. We expect the Australian government to defend those principles, as it should be defending one of its own citizens.”
Assange has been granted political asylum by the government of Ecuador protecting him from retaliation by the US, for WikiLeaks’ publication of classified documents. However, Assange has been forced to remain in the Ecuadorian embassy in London as British authorities have made clear their intention to arrest him and extradite him to Sweden, should he try to leave.
Assange has consistently agreed to travel to Sweden to answer allegations of sexual assault, on condition that the Swedish government guarantees that it will not extradite him to the US. Sweden’s refusal to do so was instrumental in Ecuador’s decision to grant the WikiLeaks founder political asylum.
“The threat from the US is clear”, said Malone. “The Australian government needs to say to the US, in no uncertain terms: hands off Julian Assange.”