‘Kidnapped’ Assange’s support swells from the centre
As Australia swelters through an unprecedented summer heatwave, Julian Assange is very ill in a chill, dank Belmarsh prison in London, attracting increasing support from the centre of Australia, but not from the national government where he is a citizen.
A judicial investigation by the Audiencia Nacional in Spain, the country’s national court, is acting on allegations that while Assange held asylum inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the Wikileaks founder was spied on, listened to and had his computer data scraped and that this information was sold to US intelligence agencies, the Guardian reported. https://tinyurl.com/rtcmv4p
Lawyers say the fact of this alleged illegal behaviour on the part of the US may count for Assange in his fight against extradition to that country. The trial about possible extradition, requested by the USA, is due to begin in February 2020.
Doctors say Assange may not live that long. Some 100 from throughout the world have written to the Australian government, saying his health is deteriorating seriously and rapidly. They have called on the Australian government to protect its citizen. But the government is more protective of its relationship with the Trump administration than it is of its own citizen, CLA believes. Assange does not appear to have broken any law in the USA, as he is not and has not ever been bound by its laws.
A US grand jury indicted him – initially secretly – on 18 charges which could lead to 175 years in jail in the USA if he is extradited there to face a legal system noted for its ability to adapt and bend to support the desires of US President and administration.
Strangely, the Assange extradition request in the UK may become caught in a tit-for-tat battle over responsibility for an apparently accidental death. The motorbike riding 19-year-old Harry Dunn in Northamptonshire was killed after colliding with a car allegedly driven by US diplomat’s wife Anne Sacoolas. She quickly returned to America, claiming diplomatic immunity. The then-British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson requested that she return to Britain for questioning.
But US President Donald Trump’s briefing notes, videoed at a press conference, said Sacoolas would not be returning. When he spoke, the US President ad-libbed about how Americans sometimes drove on the wrong side of the road in Britain (“it happens”) and how they would “see what we can come up with, so there can be some healing”. https://tinyurl.com/y2n4hnyv
It’s hard to see why the UK would extradite Assange at the USA’s request, when the USA will not send back a woman to face justice over the death of a young British man.
While the Australia government appears blind, deaf and dumb to Assange’s rights as an Australian citizen, throughout the nation momentum is building on his behalf. It has been slow to take off but – like what happened with David Hicks under the Howard government – the issue could become a lingering political anchor growing heavier and heavier around the neck of the Morrison government for years if it fails to act positively, CLA believes.
Even in Alice Springs – as different and remote from Belmarsh prison as you could get – there’s awareness and activity on Assange’s behalf. At a recent meeting of the Julian Assange Support in Alice Springs (JASAS) group, they passed a resolution condemning the imprisonment of both Julian Assange and Chelsea Manning. The group is circulating a pamphlet around town calling on citizens of The Alice to support Assange.
What starts in Alice can spread like a wave throughout Australia, CLA member and JASAS organiser Jerry Fitzsimmons said on 18 December 2019.
In Brisbane, a “Justice for Julian” event showed Assange’s father calling on the Australian government to take more and more urgent action on his son’s behalf, saying he had been “judicially kidnapped”: https://youtu.be/kLoujC8H0vI