Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Assange Asks Australian Government For Safe Return To Australia

By Jerry Smith Feb 1 2011

Assange is asking the Australian Government to ensure his safe return to Melbourne as his extradition hearing Monday in London on sexual misconduct charges in Sweden approaches.

"He wants to return to Australia, he wants to return safely here, knowing he'll have the support of the government. He insists that the government intervene to protect him. Of course we have witnessed the government not protecting him but rather taking a hostile attitude to him without any foundation," defense attorney Rob Stary, a member of Assange's Melbourne legal team, said.

Stary told newspaper The Age that Assange intends to return to Melbourne, where he has earned a lot of support for his mission to make world governments more transparent and accountable.

Assange created a recording to be played on Friday at a free speech forum in Melbourne, thanking his Australian supporters.

Two women accuse Assange of forcing them to have sex without a condom, which he denies. Supporters claim the sexual misconduct charges have been filed to silence the WikiLeaks whistle-blower. If Assange is extradited to Sweden the fear is that he will then be extradited to the United States and once there he may face the death penalty.

WikiLeaks has been releasing U.S. State Department cables, and has released hundreds of thousands of U.S. military documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has said Assange's role in the documents' publication was "illegal". She said this two weeks before the Australian Federal Police investigation determined Assange did not commit a crime under Australian law.

"She knew there was an Australian Federal Police investigation pending when she made those comments, and yet she was prepared to say at that point, prior to any finding of the AFP, that he behaved unlawfully and reprehensibly. We've been concerned that kind of rhetoric coming out of the government has been damaging and in his address he has asked the Government to intervene to support him," Stary said.

Christine Assange, the mother of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, referred to Gillard as a "sycophant" of the US.

She also said about Gillard "We have a system that separates the legal system and the political system as a safeguard for the people and she doesn't seem to be able to understand that basic premise. Perhaps she needs to brush up a little bit on what that means for a democracy."

Christine Assange feels that Gillard's views on her son and WikiLeaks are costing her support, both within her own party and among voters that recognize the value of WikiLeaks and its founder.

The angry mother added that Gillard has failed to show Australians that she is a protector of free speech, and has clearly taken a submissive approach to please the United States.

Assange told the Seven Network "Gillard needs to declare publicly that this is not an acceptable treatment of an Australian organisation. Nor is it acceptable treatment of an Australian. WikiLeaks is registered in Australia."

Gillard has said she cannot and will not make Assange's legal problems go away, but like any other Australian citizen, the WikiLeaks founder is welcome to return home once they do.

"There's not anything we can, or indeed, should do about that. They are charges and they've got to be worked through proper process," Ms Gillard told Austereo.

Gillard said it was not the Australian Government's fault that Assange couldn't return to Australia immediately. "I don't go around issuing invitations to come to Australia, you are entitled to be here unless there is some legal obligations keeping him overseas," Gillard said.

Gillard, who thinks that Mr Assange should be charged for leaking the classified documents, denied she was under the thumb of the US. "I haven't got any heat in that sense," she said.

Seeking to distinguish between the "moral force" of a whistle-blower and WikiLeaks releasing classified documents, Gillard said whistleblowing put Watergate into the public eye, "That is conduct I can understand. WikiLeaks is something else. It's not about making a moral case, it's really about all of this information and just putting it up there and whatever happens happens. It's an irresponsible thing to do."

Stary also said Assange still holds an Australian passport, that there is no basis for his travel documents to be cancelled or suspended, and that the Australian Government should assure him Assange will not be handed over to the U.S. upon his return to Australia.

No comments:

Post a Comment