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Australia Approves Motion Urging Britain To Return Julian Assange

Above photo: Australia’s Prime Minister and federal MP’s have voted to return Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to Australia rather than extradite him to the United States. Facundo Arrizabalaga/ EPA-EFE.

Australia’s prime minister and federal members of Parliament approved a motion Wednesday to return Wikileaks founder Julian Assange to Australia.

MP Andrew Wilkie introduced the motion arguing that Assange should be freed from a British prison where he has spent nearly five years and returned to Australia as Britain’s High Court will hear Assange’s appeal next week against his extradition to the United States on espionage charges.

“It will send a very powerful political signal to the British government and to the U.S. government that the British government should not entertain the idea of Mr. Assange being extradited to the U.S.,” Wilkie said Wednesday in parliament, noting Assange faces up to 175 years in prison if convicted on the U.S. charges.

Wilkie added that if Assange is sent to the U.S. to face trial it would be a direct attack on media freedom, as it would set a “frightening precedent for all journalists that they, too, are at risk of being locked up just for doing their job.”

“There are real concerns that if Julian loses next week he will be immediately extradited. We were told for the first time that Attorney General Mark Dreyfus

raised Julian’s case with his U.S. counterpart last week.” Australian Greens MP David Shoebridge.

Australian Attorney General Mark Dryfus confirmed that Assange’s case was raised with the U.S. Attorney General’s office last week.

“This was a private discussion, however this government’s position on Mr Assange is very clear, and has not changed. It is time this matter is brought to an end,” Mr Dreyfus said.

Assange’s Wikileaks published classified U.S. diplomatic cables provided by former U.S. soldier Chelsea Manning in 2010.

Wikileaks maintains Assange did nothing wrong and was just doing his job as a journalist.

Ecuador granted asylum to Assange in 2012, giving him refuge in its London Embassy as Sweden tried to extradite him for a sexual assault investigation. Britain arrested Assange after Ecuador withdrew the asylum in 2019

Assange was criminally charged in the United States for publishing the classified documents.

If Britain’s High Court rules against Assange next week he could be extradited to the United States.

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