‘Show some backbone’: call for Albanese to help release Julian Assange
Family and high-profile advocates of Julian Assange have called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to “show some backbone” and fight for the WikiLeaks founder to return home to Australia.
Members of the Free Julian Assange Campaign rallied outside of Mr Albanese’s Sydney office in Marrickville in 41C heat on Saturday to express their support and commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights.
Assange’s father John Shipton led the group of speakers and renewed the call for his son to be released from high-security prison in the United Kingdom, before his extradition to the United States where he faces up to 175 years imprisonment.
“Julian Assange can be freed with a phone call, the government can ring up their colleagues in the UK and say send him home,” Mr Shipton told the crowd.
“For 13 years we have witnessed acquiescence for whatever the US and the UK have wanted to do to Julian, 13 years of it.
“Acquiescence means complicity … We participated in sending a man to Cavalry, we participated.”
After his speech, Mr Shipton revealed he only spoke to Assange yesterday from prison about his wife and two children.
“We gossip about the wives and the kids and then we get down to the serious business but by that time eight of the 10 minutes is gone,” he said.
“He still laughs; he loves his Aussie-isms, you know how Aussies like black humour.”
When asked about whether he speaks to his son about life in prison, Mr Shipton said he preferred to keep their brief conversations positive.
“I don’t ask him those sort of questions because what if he says ‘it’s s***’? I can’t alleviate his suffering by listening to his suffering.”
Greens Senator David Shoebridge earlier addressed the crowd and took aim at Mr Albanese and Minister for Foreign Affairs Penny Wong over their perceived inaction.
“I got to tell you Albanese is feeling the heat today isn’t he, and so he bloody should be,” Mr Shoebridge said.
“What country allows two of its closest allies to treat one of its own citizens, a citizen journalist, like this?
“I will continue to press the likes of Penny Wong to actually show some backbone and stop saying that this is all just a matter for the courts and that she can’t intervene. She’s never said that in relation to freeing Australians from China, Iran, or Russia. It’s just that when it’s one of the great and powerful allies of Australia that this government surrenders its will.
“Australia should put some critical assets on the line in these relationships … put something meaningful on the table like it matters.”
Fellow whistleblower David McBride also doubled down on his support for Assange ahead of his sentencing in March, after he pleaded guilty to three charges of stealing and unlawfully sharing secret Australian military information.
“I’ve had tremendous support and as we expected, as I always expected, we could well lose the battle but we will win the war,” Mr McBride said.
Assange, 52, has spent almost five years imprisoned in London fighting extradition to the US – 13 years after the explosive publication of thousands of top-secret military documents surrounding the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Mr Albanese raised the Assange case with US president Joe Biden during a visit to Washington in October, but his supporters have accused the PM of failing to make a formal request for his release.
Originally published as ‘Show some backbone’: call for Albanese to help release Julian Assange
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