By Dave DeCamp
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has expressed frustration over the Biden administration’s efforts to convict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen.
“There is nothing to be served by his ongoing incarceration,” Albanese said Friday while in the UK. The Australian leader noted Assange had already spent a lot of time incarcerated, as he has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since April 2019 and had been confined to the Ecuadorian embassy before that.
“I just say that enough is enough,” he said. “I know it’s frustrating, I share the frustration. I can’t do more than make very clear what my position is, and the US administration is certainly very aware of what the Australian government’s position is.”
Last November, Albanese said he personally asked the US government to drop the charges against Assange, who is facing up to 175 years in prison if convicted for publishing information that revealed US war crimes. The Biden administration has been under increasing pressure to end its attempt to extradite Assange from the UK but shows no sign it will change course.
On May 3, which marked World Press Freedom Day, the State Department refused to acknowledge that Assange was a journalist and backed the charges against him for the first time. Previously, the State Department would not comment on the case.
A group of House Democrats led by Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) recently sent a letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland urging him to drop the charges against Assange. The WikiLeaks founder used standard journalistic practices to obtain the information he published, and the lawmakers warned of the precedent his conviction could set.
“The prosecution of Mr. Assange, if successful, not only sets a legal precedent whereby journalists or publishers can be prosecuted, but a political one as well. In the future, The New York Times or Washington Post could be prosecuted when they publish important stories based on classified information,” the lawmakers said.
Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave. View all posts by Dave DeCamp
Image: The Last American Vagabond
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