A cross-party group of Australian members of parliament met with the US ambassador to Australia on Tuesday and called for Washington to drop the charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen.
The delegation of lawmakers, known as the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, told US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy that there was broad support for Assange in the Australian Parliament.
Independent MP Andrew Wilkie said in a statement that the lawmakers “impressed upon the Ambassador the broad support in the Australian Parliament for Mr. Assange, which was echoed clearly by both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader last week when they said this matter had gone on long enough.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said last week that he was “frustrated” by the Biden administration’s continued efforts to extradite Assange. If he is convicted in the US, Assange faces up to 175 years in prison for publishing information related to the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The conviction would set a dangerous precedent for press freedom in the United States and around the world, as Assange is not an American citizen. The Biden administration has come under more pressure to drop the charges against Assange, who has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since April 2019, when the Trump administration’s Justice Department unsealed the indictment against him.
More world leaders have been speaking out for Assange, including Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva. “It is an embarrassment that a journalist who denounced trickery by one state against another is arrested, condemned to die in jail and we do nothing to free him. It’s a crazy thing,” Lula said last week.
“We talk about freedom of expression; the guy is in prison because he denounced wrongdoing. And the press doesn’t do anything in defense of this journalist. I can’t understand it,” the Brazilian leader added.
Ambassador Kennedy is the last surviving child of President John F. Kennedy, and her cousin, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., recently launched a presidential bid and has said he would pardon Assange if elected.
“Instead of championing free speech, the US actively persecutes journalists and whistleblowers. I’ll pardon brave truth-tellers like Julian Assange and investigate the corruption and crimes they exposed,” RFK Jr. wrote on Twitter.