Wednesday 19th of June 2024

mission to free assange: australian parliamentarians in washington.....

It was a short stint, involving a six-member delegation of Australian parliamentarians lobbying members of the US Congress and various relevant officials on one issue: the release of Julian Assange. If extradited to the US from the United Kingdom to face 18 charges, 17 framed with reference to the oppressive, extinguishing Espionage Act of 1917, the Australian founder of WikiLeaks risks a 175-year prison term.


BY Binoy Kampmark


Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce, Labor MP Tony Zappia, Greens Senators David Shoebridge and Peter Whish-Wilson, Liberal Senator Alex Antic and the independent member for Kooyong, Dr. Monique Ryan, are to be viewed with respect, their pluckiness admired. They came cresting on the wave of a letter published on page 9 of the Washington Post, expressing the views of over 60 Australian parliamentarians. “As Australian Parliamentarians, we are resolutely of the view that the prosecution and incarceration of the Australian citizen Julian Assange must end.”

This is a good if presumptuous start. Australia remains the prized forward base of US ambitions in the Indo-Pacific, the spear pointed against China and any other rival who dares challenge its stubborn hegemony. The AUKUS pact, featuring the futile, decorative nuclear submarines that will be rich scrapping for the Royal Australian Navy whenever they arrive, also makes that point all too clear. For the US strategist, Australia is fiefdom, property, real estate, terrain, its citizenry best treated as docile subjects represented by even more docile governments. Assange, and his publishing agenda, act as savage critiques of such assumptions.

The following views in Washington DC have been expressed by the delegates in what might be described as a mission to educate. From Senator Shoebridge, the continued detention of Assange proved to be “an ongoing irritant in the bilateral relationship” between Canberra and Washington. “If this matter is not resolved and Julian is not brought home, it will be damaging to the bilateral relationship”.

Senator Whish-Wilson focused on the activities of Assange himself. “The extradition of Julian Assange as a foreign journalist conducting activities on foreign soil is unprecedented.” To create such a “dangerous precedent” laid “a very slippery slope for any democracy to go down.”

Liberal Senator Alex Antic emphasised the spike in concern in the Australian population about wishing for Assange’s return to Australia (some nine out of 10 wishing for such an outcome). “We’ve seen 67 members of the Australian parliament share that message in a joint letter, which we’ve delivered across the spectrum”. An impressed Antic remarked that this had “never happened before. I think we’re seeing an incredible groundswell, and we want to see Julian at home as soon as possible.”

On September 20, in front of the Department of Justice, Zappia told reporters that, “we’ve had several meetings and we’re not going to go into details of those meetings. But I can say that they’ve all been useful meetings.” Not much to go on, though the Labor MP went on to state that the delegation, as representatives of the Australian people had “put our case very clearly about the fact that Julian Assange pursuit and detention and charges should be dropped and should come to an end.”

A point where the delegates feel that a rich quarry can be mined and trundled away for political consumption is the value of the US-Australian alliance. As Ryan reasoned, “This side of the AUKUS partnership feels really strongly about this and so what we expect the prime minister [Anthony Albanese] to do is that he will carry the same message to President Biden when he comes to Washington.”

The publisher’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, also suggests that the indictment is “a wedge in the Australia-US relationship, which is a very important relationship at the moment, particularly with everything that’s going on with the US and China and the sort of strategic pivot that is happening.” Assange, for his part, is bound to find this excruciatingly ironic, given his lengthy battles against the US imperium and the numbing servility of its client states.

Various members of Congress have granted an audience to the six parliamentarians. Enthusiasm was in abundance from two Kentucky Congressmen: Republican Senator Rand Paul and Republican House Representative Thomas Massie. After meeting the Australian delegation, Massie declared that it was his “strong belief [Assange] should be free to return home.”

Georgian Republican House member Marjorie Taylor Greene expressed her sense of honour at having met the delegates “to discuss the inhumane detention” of Assange “for the crime of committing journalism,” insisting that the charges be dropped and a pardon granted. “America should be a beacon of free speech and shouldn’t be following in an authoritarian regime’s footsteps.” Greene has shown herself to be a conspiracy devotee of the most pungent type, but there was little to fault her regarding these sentiments.

Minnesota Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar also met the parliamentarians, discussing, according to a press release from her office, “the Assange prosecution and its significance as an issue in the bilateral relationship between the United States and Australia, as well as the implications for freedom of the press both at home and abroad.” She also reiterated her view, one expressed in an April 2023 letter to the Department of Justice co-signed with six other members of Congress, that the charges against Assange be dropped.

These opinions, consistent and venerably solid, have rarely swayed the mad hatters at the Justice Department who continue to operate within the same church consensus regarding Assange as an aberration and threat to US security. And they can rely, ultimately, on the calculus of attrition that assumes allies of Washington will eventually belt up, even if they grumble. There will always be those who pretend to question, such as the passive, meek Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong. “We have raised this many times,” Wong responded to a query while in New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly. “Secretary [of State Antony] Blinken and I both spoke about the fact that we had a discussion about the views that the United States has and the views that Australia has.”

Not that this mattered a jot. In July, Blinken stomped on Wong’s views in a disingenuous, libellous assessment about Assange, reminding his counterpart that the publisher had been “charged with very serious criminal conduct in the United States in connection with his alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of our country.” The libel duly followed, with the claim that Assange “risked very serious harm to our national security, to the benefit of our adversaries, and put named sources at grave risk – grave risk – of physical harm, and grave risk of detention”. That gross falsification of history went unaddressed by Wong.

Thus far, Blinken has waived away the concerns of the Albanese government on Assange’s fate as passing irritants at a spring garden party. However small their purchase, six Australian parliamentarians have chosen to press the issue further. At the very least, they have gone to the centre of the imperium to add a bit of ballast to the effort.


First published in COUNTER PUNCH on September 26, 2023



let him go....

There is a court in France, eager to place its hands on Julian... The English do not want to let ASSANGE go for fear he might do a runner... MY take here is for the Poms (POMs) to lend Assange to the French who, OOPS, might let him "escape"... THUS THE INGLANDERS can only blamed the French for this and apologise to the AMERICAN NAZIS in charge of Washingtonia, on this issue...

Everyone is a winner, except Anthony Blinken, the nazi jew who hates ASSANGE and lies about his own ancestry...




UK May Block Assange’s Attendance at Appeal to European Court of Human Rights

U.K. officials deny the case is about press freedom, and they won’t say anything about whether Assange can go to France.



US fascist regime....


Assange extradition: “something you might expect from a totalitarian regime”   By John Jiggens


Julian Assange may be only weeks away from being extradited to the US where he will face prosecution under the US Espionage Act that could see him imprisoned for 175 years, even though he is an Australian citizen, not a US citizen! With extradition so near, the campaign to save Assange has reached its highest pitch.

While the US empire seems determined to destroy Assange because he exposed their war crimes, the burden of his defence falls heavily on his family members: his wife, Stella Assange, who has to care for two young children, his father, John Shipton, an old age pensioner, and his brother, Gabriel Shipton, a film producer. Despite the enormous disparity in the correlation of forces between Julian’s family and the world-spanning US empire, the trio travel the world, building a campaign to save their son, husband and brother.

While Stella Assange and Gabriel Shipton were in the US, helping the Australian parliamentary delegation, Julian’s father, John Shipton, was rallying support in France and Switzerland, attending a Human Rights Festival, sponsored by L’Humanité, and speaking at showings of the film, Ithaka, about the family’s fight to save Julian. Before he left Australia for his European visit, I spoke with John Shipton about his recent visit to Brazil, and the state of the world-wide campaign to save Julian Assange.

“The reception in Brazil was wonderful,” John Shipton declared. Although President Lula, a powerful advocate for Assange, was away attending the BRICS summit in South Africa, John Shipton met with the communication minister and the Minister for Human Rights. The film, Ithaka, about the family’s endeavours to build a world-wide alliance, was shown in five cities, followed by a Q&A. The response was overwhelming, John Shipton said, with the theatres overflowing, and people having to be turned away.

The previous year, John and Gabriel Shipton were invited to Mexico to receive the keys to Mexico City on behalf of Julian, and Mexican President Obrador invited them to be guests of honour for Mexico’s Independence Day celebrations as a high-level display of Assange support in the Western hemisphere. In the Americas, Assange is regarded as a great liberator, on a par with Che Guevera, because he exposed the reality of US regime change wars.

“The majority of Latin America is committed to Julian,” John Shipton said, reeling off the names of leaders and countries who have called for the Assange prosecution to be dropped: “Bolivia, Ecuador will change with the new government, Petra from Columbia, Berwick from Chile, Fernandez and Kirchner from Argentina and Lula from Brazil and Obrador from Mexico. The support in Latin America is really extraordinary, an outreach of passion and determination to do what they can to free Julian Assange.”

The day before the Australian parliament delegation arrived in Washington, Brazil’s President Luiz Lula da Silva underlined Brazil’s strong support for Assange when he addressed the United Nations in New York:

“It is essential to preserve the freedom of the press,” Lula declared.

“A journalist like Julian Assange cannot be punished for informing society in a transparent and legitimate way.” It was essential for freedom of the press that the Wikileaks founder should not be prosecuted for informing the public,” the Brazilian President told the United Nations.

Since the US treats the appeals of presidents of major countries like Mexico and Brazil as if they hardly matter, Julian Assange’s freedom depends on whether the Biden administration will listen to Australian representatives. Prime Minister Albanese has said he wants the matter brought to an end, and enough is enough. Albanese will meet Biden in October, and he is facing pressure to go beyond these platitudes, and press more forcefully for the charges against Assange to be dropped.

To prepare the way for Prime Minister Albanese and to encourage Biden to drop the prosecution, a delegation of Australian politicians from across the political spectrum, consisting of Monique Ryan (Independent), former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce (Nationals). Tony Zappia (ALP), Senator David Shoebridge (Greens), Senator Antic (Liberal), and Senator Peter Whish-Wilson (Greens) arrived in Washington last week to plead the case for the US to end the pursuit of Assange.

All are members of the Parliamentary Group to Bring Julian Assange Home, which was founded by Peter Whish-Wilson and his fellow Tasmanian, Andrew Wilkie, in 2011. It now has 70 members, and has been very active this year, sending a delegation to US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy in May, saying the mistreatment of Assange, an Australian citizen, was putting the US-Australia alliance under considerable strain, and are behind the recent Washington delegation. A grateful John Shipton praised the parliamentary team. About Peter Whish-Wilson he said:

“When Julian had reached the nadir of his popularity and the United Kingdom, Sweden, Australia and the United States turned against him to destroy his character and capacity to gather an audience and to put him in gaol, Peter Whish-Wilson was a solitary voice, along with Andrew Wilkie.”

Speaking on Democracy Now, Peter Whish-Wilson outlined the purpose of the Australian Parliamentary delegation.

“We’ve got a number of meetings with US lawmakers, including Congress and the Senate. We’ll also be meeting with the Department of Justice, the State Department, the Australian Consulate and Ambassador and other stakeholders and doing media like I am doing now.

“The primary aim for our delegation – and it is cross-party – is to let Americans know, particularly those in power, that Australians feel strongly about this issue. We feel that Julian Assange has suffered enough He has been incarcerated now, in one form or the other, for almost a decade for publishing the truth.

“He is an Australian citizen. He won the highest award for journalism in our country. A number of Australian media outlets, as well as key US media outlets, have published articles around the WikiLeaks disclosures.

“We feel his extradition process that is under way is a very dangerous global precedent for press freedoms. It is extraterritorial overreach on a massive scale by the US government It’s not what you would expect from the beacon of global democracy. With all respect to your listeners, it is something you might expect from a totalitarian regime.”