With Wikileaks founder Julian Assange facing UK courts this week, what’s Labor’s position regarding his release?
In 2010, Wikileaks released a trove of classified military documents, including footage of US marines killing ‘a dozen people in Baghdad, including two Reuters news staff’.
A number of cross-party MPs are lobbying to have Assange returned to Australia. They include two Nationals MPs, two Labor MPs and members of the Greens and the cross bench, according to The SMH (Nine).
The Echo asked local federal MP Justine Elliot if she would be joining the cross-party MP group, and if not, why? The Echo also asked whether Ms Elliot considers the treatment of Assange by UK, US and Australian governments justifiable, given his alleged crimes resulted in no deaths, yet the crimes he revealed, did.
Ms Elliot did not say whether she would join the cross-party group that supports Assange. Instead, she repeated her party’s position.
She said, ‘As Julian Assange’s arrest and any legal proceedings are a matter of current consideration in accordance with the British justice system, I feel it would be inappropriate to comment publicly while that process is underway.
‘As Julian is an Australian citizen, he, like any Australian citizen facing legal difficulties overseas, is entitled to consular assistance provided through Australia’s overseas missions. I understand this assistance has been offered to Julian through the Australian High Commission in London, and this will continue to be the case.
‘Labor is also concerned about reports that Julian’s health has been deteriorating while in custody. The shadow Attorney-General and shadow foreign minister have written to the Australian government requesting that Australia press the UK government to ensure that Julian receives appropriate medical care.’
MP Elliot criticised
Local activist Dean Jefferys says that Justine Elliot’s position of not wanting to interrupt the legal proceedings of another country ‘is pure hypocrisy’.
‘Just last year, there was intense diplomatic intervention from the highest level, to stop Australia’s famous soccer player Mr al-Araibi from being extradited back to Bahrain, from Bangkok, to face charges.
‘The prime minister and foreign affairs minister released a joint statement commending the Thai government for its decision not to allow extradition and noted the ‘constructive dialogue that we have had with Bahrain in helping to resolve this issue.’
Dean Jefferys said, ‘So we know intervention is possible when there is political will to do so. We can now see clearly that most of our politicians, including prime ministers Morrison, Gillard and Turnbull have all betrayed Julian Assange. By betraying Julian, they have also endangered a free press worldwide, and may cause our Aussie hero to die in an American jail’.
The Australians for Assange Facebook page said on February 21 that ‘Moreland City Council in Melbourne have joined Darebin and Yarra Melbourne councils in passing an official motion in support of Julian Assange.’
Byron Council also have a similar motion, penned by Cr Sarah Ndiaye, before this Thursday’s meeting.
A group of Assange supporters delivered a letter and message to the UK Consular General in Brisbane on Monday to say that, ‘A great miscarriage of justice will occur if Assange is extradited.’