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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    • Please add my name in support of this petition and request to the Australian government. I am dismayed and disappointed that our government has been silent and absent in its supprt of an Australian citizen.

    • Please add my name to your list in support of Mr. Assange. The Australian government needs to take the lead in protecting the rights of one of their own citizens.

  1. As a citizen of this country, a country which is based on freedom of speech and the right to live one’s life to one’s own ideals, the government seriously need to get involved in Julian’s case overseas. Do you think the Aussie public are stupid and dont see the fact that it is only your governmental and military ties with the US which is stopping you from doing so? If this was your brother, what would you do…move heaven and earth. So do it for Julian as well, a fellow aussie brother. Seriously, its a bit contradictory when you guys will readily assist an aussie caught with drugs overseas yet you wont help Julian. Shame !

  2. Please protect your citizenry. Without your help imagine what this slippery slope will lead to. It’s up to you to live up to your sworn oath.

  3. I sign in support of Julian Assange’s right to not be held in custody for an extended period without charge.

  4. please,add my name for support julian. i ask to australian government to protect Julian Assange,that’s your priority,right now.

  5. The Australian government should represent Australian citizens. It has not been representing the rights of Australians and this is shameful.
    Julian Assange must be supported by his government and people.
    The failure to effectively act and the slanderous lies of Julia Gillard’s government are deplorable.

  6. Please add my name Ursula Riches. Can you put this onto facebook too? About time the govts started to stand up for right against the big bullies. Whatthe govts do stinks/.

  7. Please add my name in support of Julian. I ask our Government to stand up for human rights and freedom of speech.

  8. Please add my name Ursula Riches Wales UK

    About time more govt stood up against the bully big boys who are evil. What manning has been through and what stress Assange must be suffering. Just say NO dont worry about laws they are being abused all the time by US! AND NATO! No free dental care in Libya now mate.

  9. The initial reaction/inaction of Australia in the Assange affair was deplorable and not only does his Government have the responsibility to protect him wherever he is on the planet, it must make good on it’s previous failure to stand by it’s citizen throughout legal proceedings and to aid if incarcerated as long as he is a citizen of Australia.

    Whistleblowing always makes enemies, but without courageous Journalism to publish whistleblowers’ discoverys, we would never know about some of the crimes highly placed individuals and sometimes nations have committed.

    While the rape charges are significant, they’ve been investigated and Assange was released. Now Sweden wants a redo?

    There is something fishy about the entire affair and the Swedish legal system does not appear to be operating on the up and up in this case. Inadequate protections for a person facing just accusations are a real concern with the Swedish system and extradition to Sweden must be fought at every front.

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