Mr Rudd: Protect Assange!

This is an open letter to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon. It calls on the Australian government to take steps to ensure Julian Assange’s human rights are protected. It will be delivered on 19 December 2011, but we encourage members of the public to sign the letter below by adding their full name in the comments section, together with any comment they may wish to make. Please feel free to spread the word about the letter to others who may be interested.

Bernard Keane and Elizabeth O’Shea

The Hon Kevin Rudd
Minister for Foreign Affairs
Parliament House ACT 2600

Dear Minister

We write to express our concern about the plight of Julian Assange.

To date, no charges have been laid against Mr Assange by Swedish authorities. Nonetheless, we understand that should he be sent to Sweden, he will be held on remand, incommunicado. We note your comments last year about the need for Mr Assange to receive appropriate consular support. We trust that this consular support is being provided and will continue.

We are concerned that should Mr Assange be placed in Swedish custody, he will be subject to the process of “temporary surrender”, enabling his removal to the United States without the appropriate legal processes that accompany normal extradition cases. We urge you to convey to the Swedish government Australia’s expectation that Mr Assange will be provided with the same rights of appeal and review that any standard extradition request would entail.

Any prosecution of Mr Assange in the United States will be on the basis of his activities as a journalist and editor (Mr Assange’s status as such has been recently confirmed by the High Court in England). Such a prosecution will be a serious assault on freedom of speech and the need for an unfettered, independent media.

Further, the chances of Mr Assange receiving a fair trial in the United States appear remote. A number of prominent political figures have called for him to be assassinated, and the Vice-President has called him a “high-tech terrorist”. Given the atmosphere of hostility in relation to Mr Assange, we hold serious concerns about his safety once in US custody. We note that Mr Assange is an Australian citizen, whose journalistic activities were undertaken entirely outside of US territory.

Mr Assange is entitled to the best endeavours of his government to ensure he is treated fairly. He is entitled to expect that his government will not remain silent while his liberty and safety are placed at risk by a government embarrassed by his journalism. Australians also expect that their government will speak out against efforts to silence the media and intimidate those who wish to hold governments to account.

We ask that you convey clearly to the United States government Australia’s concerns about any effort to manufacture charges against Mr Assange, or to use an unrelated criminal investigation as the basis for what may effectively be rendition. We also urge the government to publicly affirm that Mr Assange is welcome to return to Australia once proceedings against him in Sweden are concluded, and that the government will fully protect his rights as an Australian citizen once here.

We have copied this letter to your colleague, the Attorney-General.

Yours sincerely

Phillip Adams AO
Adam Bandt MP
Wendy Bacon
Greg Barns
Susan Benn
Senator Bob Brown
Dr Scott Burchill
Julian Burnside QC
Dr Leslie Cannold
Mike Carlton
Professor Noam Chomsky
David Collins
Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Lance Collins, Australian Intelligence Corps
Eva Cox
Sophie Cunningham
Roy David
Andrew Denton
Senator Richard Di Natale
Peter Fitzsimons
Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH
Anna Funder
Professor Raimond Gaita
David Gilmour and Polly Samson
Kara Greiner
Senator Sarah Hanson-Young
Liz Humphrys
Barry Owen Jones AO
Professor Sarah Joseph
Bernard Keane
Professor John Keane
Stephen Keim SC
Steve Killelea
Andrew Knight
Mary Kostakidis
Professor Theo van Leeuwen
Ken Loach
Antony Loewenstein
Senator Scott Ludlam
Associate Professor Jake Lynch
Professor Robert Manne
Dr Ken Macnab
David Lyle
Alex Miller
Senator Christine Milne
Alex Mitchell
Reg Mombassa
Gordon Morris
Jane Morris
Julian Morrow
The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC
Nicolé Nolan
Rebecca O’Brien
Elizabeth O’Shea
Michael Pearce SC
John Pilger
Justin Randle
Senator Lee Rhiannon
Guy Rundle
Angus Sampson
Senator Rachel Siewert
Marius Smith
Jeff Sparrow
Professor Stuart Rees AM
Rob Stary
Stephen Thompson
Dr Tad Tietze
Mike Unger
Dale Vince
Brian Walters SC
Rachel Ward
Senator Larissa Waters
Tracy Worcester, Marchioness of Worcester
Senator Penny Wright
Prof Spencer Zifcak

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  1. wikileaks has also leaked names of women & teenagers in UAF in UK, vvvsadly, would understand if UAF was afa etc maybe, but that was Vsilly. Anyway I still support this petition for the greater good,thx

  2. I offer my full support to this letter. Assange is not a criminal, in fact his work has allowed for a leap forward in the pursuit of open and transparent government throughout the world. Many more leaps to achieve and we should not dissuade those who are brave enough to make them.

  3. I support this petition and would like to be included in the undersigned.

    It’s a sad state of affairs that we again have to be fearful that our government will not fulfill its duty of protecting an Australian citizen from undue process in the courts of a primary ally.

  4. Please add my name to this letter. We in Australia, must not become party to the rabid right wing elements in American politics that are anathema to most Australians and, I believe, distressing to many decent American citizens. Name calling and knee jerk reactions to the efforts of a person who is not an American citizen, gives the lie to a democracy that America purports to believe in. Assange must be given a full and very public hearing in this important matter.
    be exporting world wide.

  5. I fully support this letter. This is the first time I have even protested in writing. I believe the lack of government support for Julian Assange is a disgrace and as an Australian citizen I am really concerned at Kevin Rudd’s lack of support.
    Mary Long

  6. Please add my name to the petition. Assange may not be perfect, but he’s being used as an example to silence dissent, and WikiLeals is great thing whoch we need.

  7. A basic roles of government should be to protect its citizens, particularly when a witch-hunt is so apparent.

    Please add my name to the petition.

  8. Please add my name to the petition. Assange and his colleagues do what our elected representatives and the “free” press have for a long time proven they will not do – protect our democratic rights through revealing what those in power wish to keep secret (they use our taxes to pursue special-interest agendas).

  9. Big support for this letter and Julian Assange. We need more, not less like him! I don’t want Australia to end up a fascist state like the US. Bring him home!!

  10. We have seen repeated incidents where the Australian Government outright declines proper aid to Australian Citizens in foriegn lands. It is not likely to be in any rush to shift it’s position on that when you take into account its priority will always be focused on maintaining good relations with other countries in trade and economic advantage situations. These considerations will always outwiegh the rights of individual citizens and this is not a situation the basic rights of Australian Citizens being overidden on foriegn soil, it happens here in Australia on a regular basis and few citizens object unless directly affected themselves. Our politicians efficiently provide all the spin necessary to feed this apathetic attitude that has been bred into our society. Until Australian citizens unite, no matter what their cultural origins, their rights will remain an article of fancy. We are being led to the slaughterhouse by leaders who have no integrity and recently at the last Federal Election witnessed what the public vote counts for, nothing. The present government claims it has a mandate from “the people”, a blatant lie. It’s mandate is from the Indepenants. We had and have no say in government. Just look at the type of leadership we have presently experienced where the Rudd/Gillard challenge was exhibited as an example of a government at work, drama or comedy, whatever, it was a sham. And people expect these fools to stand up for the rights of Australian citizen overseas? Not going to happen.

    R Field

  11. Please protect Mr Assange and afford him his Australian citizen rights. I fully support the above letter. I am concerned that the Australian government supports the USA military and pentagon over any Australian citizen’s rights. Where there were no laws to pursue and place him in virtual imprisonment by confinement, so the USA invented them as they went along. It is obvious that he could attend to the Swedish court matters by technological means. Accused murderers and others accused of serious crimes have done so. Mr Assange has been charged with nothing. As Australian citizen I am losing faith in the Australian government to protect any citizen’s rights. Why are you there unless you carry this out? If we no longer have any rights, that is, if the USA has overtaken Australia, we have a right to be informed. Mr Rudd, please attend to this issue.

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