Australian MP’s Pass Motion in Support of the Release and Repatriation of Julian Assange

What You Need to Know: 

Last week, members of Australia’s Parliament voted to pass a motion calling for the repatriation of controversial journalist and founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, who is an Australian Citizen. 

52-year old Assange has been in British custody for nearly five years, accused of breaching the Bail Act of 1976, Assange was arrested by British Police inside the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he had been living after being granted asylum in 2012. 

In two days time, London judges are to decide whether Assange has the right to appeal his extradition to the United States, which was previously denied by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel in 2022. Assange is wanted by the United States on one count of computer misuse and 17 counts of breaching the 1917 Espionage Act, which was initially passed in order to limit criticism against the United States’ entry into the First World War. 

Furthermore, the Espionage Act does not include a public interest defense, meaning Assange’s lawyers cannot argue that the public had the right to be informed on the issues highlighted through WikiLeaks, despite the fact that Assange exposed US extrajudicial killings of Iraqi civilians and journalists, among other things. 

The Details: 

The motion was passed 86 for and 42 against, by Andrew Wilkie, an independent lawmaker, who stated “if Mr Assange is extradited to the US, 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.” 

Speaking on Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese claimed “enough is enough”, reiterating his support for Assange’s repatriation. 

WikiLeaks:

Launched in 2006, WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of classified documents and diplomatic cables from the US government, as well as Democrat Party emails, numbers, addresses and emails of British National Party members, 9/11 ‘paper messages’, documents from Sony Pictures, and most infamously, a video taken from a US military helicopter of the extrajudicial killings of Reuters journalists Namir Noor-Eldeen, Saeed Chmagh and multiple Iraqi civilians. 

American Soldier Chelsea Manning, an intelligence analyst for the United States Military in Iraq, provided the helicopter video as well as hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and army reports to WikiLeaks between 2010 and 2011. The leaks became known as the Afghan War Diary and Iraq War Logs. 

Manning was charged with 22 counts of espionage, helping the enemy, and theft in 2013. She was freed in 2017 at the behest of President Obama.

When asked for comment on her case, Obama stated, “the notion that the average person who is thinking about disclosing vital classified information would think that it goes unpunished … I don’t think would get that impression from the sentence that Chelsea Manning has served.”

Andrei Molodkin ‘Dead Man’s Switch’:

Many prominent journalists and artists have declared their support of Assange, including Russian artist Andrei Molodkin, who has stated his intention to destroy $45 million dollars worth of art by Picasso, Warhol, and Rembrandt with acid if Assange dies in prison. 

The art piece titled ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ runs off a 24-hour timer which must be reset everyday only after it is proven to those involved in the project that Assange is alive. 

Speaking to Sky News, Italian art dealer, Giampaolo Abbondio, stated “It’s more relevant for the world to have one Assange than an extra Picasso, so I decided to accept [the offer to donate an artwork]. Let’s say I’m an optimist and I’ve lent it. If Assange goes free, I can have it back. Picasso can vary from 10,000 to 100 million, but I don’t think it’s the number of zeros that makes it more relevant when we’re talking about a human life.”

According to Sky News, “16 modern and contemporary artworks are to be stored in a 29-ton safe alongside an “extremely corrosive” substance. The works are allegedly stored in boxes connected via a pneumatic pump to two barrels—one containing acid powder and the other an accelerator capable of causing a chemical reaction that would decimate the vault’s interior.”

 

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger is a Political Science Graduate from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Currently working as an Editor for The ModernInsurgent and writing for Atlas News, her interests include conflict politics, history, yoga and meditation.

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