Australian MPs plead with UK Govt to stop the Assange US extradition

Australian MPs have made a last-ditch appeal to the UK Government to stop the US extradition of Julian Assange, as fears grow that the Australian WikiLeaks publisher would not survive extradition to the US.

Two judges in the UK High Court on 20 and 21 February will decide if the previous extradition ruling should be overturned in light of recent judgments that halted the UK Prime Minister’s plans to send asylum seekers to Rwanda. If Julian’s final appeal fails next month, he faces a sentence of 175 years for publishing classified information that exposed US war crimes during the Afghan and Iraq wars.

Julian’s UK lawyer Jennifer Robinson has said that she fears that he “would not survive if extradited to the US”.

The parliamentary group joins global legal, medical, and humanitarian experts, who fear for the safety of Julian if his final UK appeal fails next month.

The parliamentary letter to the UK Home Secretary James Cleverly MP is signed by the co-convenors of the Australian Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group; Andrew Wilkie MP (Independent), Bridget Archer MP (Liberal), Josh Wilson MP (Labor), Sen. David Shoebridge (Greens).

We know that you will be well aware of the UK Supreme Court decision that related to your office reported as AAA v Secretary of State for the Home Department [2023] UKSC 42 (hereafter “AAA”). The decision found that courts in the United Kingdom cannot just rely on third-party assurances by foreign governments but rather are required to make independent assessments of the risk of persecution to individuals before any order is made removing them from the UK.

Said Julian’s brother, Gabriel Shipton: “This is a do-or-die scenario for Julian. If he loses at the UK courts next month, he could be extradited to the USA within 24 hours. Expert witness testimony and a UK magistrate have both found that would ultimately lead to his death.”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has consistently said he wants the case to come to an end. However, his ‘quiet diplomacy’ representations to US President Joe Biden, and the collective advocacy of an Australian cross-bench delegation to DC, have so far not led to Julian’s release.

“It’s looking more and more like a one-way street when it comes to dealings with the USA. The Australian Government just committed to attacks in Yemen, but doesn’t appear to have the strength to stand up for the rights of its citizens. Now it has a chance to prove this perception wrong,” said Gabriel.

Greg Barns SC, Adviser to the Australian Assange Campaign said that “the UK has a key role to play in preventing Julian having to endure the US legal process”.

“It can immediately work with its two key allies, the US and Australia, to allow Julian to walk out of Belmarsh. The UK cannot reply to US assurances about their treatment of Julian,” said Greg.

As of today, Julian Assange has been arbitrarily detained for 13 years and 25 days, with increasingly harsh conditions that have been described as ‘slow-motion murder’. Julian spent 6 years 9 months & 25 days in a tiny flat within London’s Ecuadorian Embassy where he had sought asylum. On 11 April 2019, Julian was forcibly removed from the embassy by London Police and has been in a 3m x 2m solitary cell in the high-security HM Belmarsh Prison for 4 years 9 months & 4 days.