John Shipton, father of detained Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, has returned briefly to his beloved home-away-from-home on the Northern Rivers to reunite with supporters.
Mr Shipton is to share updates on the campaign for Mr Assange’s freedom in Mullumbimby and Nimbin, with the first event scheduled for tonight in Mullum’s Courthouse Pub.
Turning Points is hosting the event.
Teal independent pressures PM on Assange detention
Last Wednesday, Monique Ryan, the independent Teal member for Kooyong, asked Prime Minister Anthony Albanese what the government was doing to support Julian Assange.
‘Journalists obtaining and publishing sensitive information is in the public interest and essential to democracy,’ Ms Ryan said in parliament, ‘Julian Assange is still detained in Belmarsh prison, charged by a foreign government with acts of journalism’.
The independent then bluntly asked the Prime Minister, ‘will the government intervene to bring Mr. Assange home?’
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese responded with his most forceful statement yet on the Assange question.
‘Some time ago, I made my point that enough is enough,’ Mr Albanese said, ‘it is time for this matter to be brought to a conclusion’.
The prime minister continued.
‘The government will continue to act in a diplomatic way but can I assure the member for Kooyong that I have raised this personally with representatives of the United States government,’ he said.
‘My position is clear and has been made clear to the US administration: I will continue to advocate as I did recently in in meetings that I have held.’
Mr Albanese thanked the member for her question and for her ‘genuine interest in this, along with so many Australian citizens’.
Parliamentary friends of Assange freedom campaign expands
Ms Ryan’s interest was later echoed in the senate thanks to Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson.
A parliamentary friends in support of bringing Julian Assange home to Australia group, started by Tasmanian Independent Senator Andrew Wilkie, has expanded to 35 members.
Mr Shipton responded warmly to Mr Albanese’s comments last week, saying the prime minister stood firmly alongside the 88% of the Australian population in firmly requesting that Julian be returned home to Australia.
The figure is based on survey results published recently in an Essential Media poll.
Mr Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, said the Prime Minister had finally publicly called for the ‘endless persecution of Australian publisher Julian Assange to be brought to an end’.
‘Australians will be keenly watching to see how the U.S. reacts and if it will respect the calls of the Australian Public and Government to show mercy to Australian citizen Julian Assange,’ Mr Shipton junior said.
Legacy media call for Biden to drop Assange charges
Monique Ryan’s question came just a few days after five leading media outlets released an open letter denouncing the US prosecution against Mr Assange.
Editors and publishers of The New York Times, The Guardian, Le Monde, Der Spiegel and El Pais warned the Assange indictment set a dangerous precedent, threatening to undermine America’s First Amendment and the freedom of the press.
‘Publishing is not a crime,’ they declared.
The campaigning international outlets were all media partners with WikiLeaks in publicising the infamous Chelsea Manning material that led to Mr Assange’s prosecution.
Mr Shipton said the most important institutions in legacy media had abandoned his son for many years and had even previously helped to bring about the decline in Julian’s public persona.
He described the editorial change as an ‘important statement from the most important media outlets in the Western world, particularly The New York Times’.
‘This is a vital assistance to bringing Julian home to Australia,’ Mr Shipton said, ‘the persecution of Julian Assange by the United Kingdom and the United States must stop’.
Assange campaign updates in Mullum and Nimbin this week
Mr Shipton is visiting northern NSW and Brisbane this week to share updates on the campaign for Mr Assange’s release.
He is to speak in Mullumbimby this evening, alongside Greens Byron Shire Councillor Duncan Dey, who recently led a council motion in support of the Bring Julian Assange Home campaign.
Local journalist for The Echo and Bay FM Community Radio*, Mia Armitage, is to facilitate a Q and A session in Mullumbimby.
Mr Shipton is also to appear at a screening of the documentary about the campaign, Ithaka, in Nimbin on December 9.
Event details are below:
Courthouse Hotel, Mullumbimby, 7 pm, Thursday 8 December
Bush Factory, Nimbin, 7 pm, Friday 9 December (starts with screening of Ithaka followed by Q+A with John Shipton)
Food is to be available with entry by donation to go toward’s Mr Shipton’s campaign fund.
* Dr John Jiggens is a reporter for Bay FM Community Radio. Listen to his most recent interview with John Shipton here (about half-way through December 2 episode of Bay FM’s Community Newsroom).