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. Thank you to those who wrote this letter to Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Attorney-General Nicola Roxon. I wish to add my name in support.

  2. I wish to add my support to an Australian citizen who needs help and protection from a human rights perspective. This situation is disgraceful.

  3. I support this petition and it’s intent 100%, and call on the Australian Government to do what we all know is right, and stop putting US desires ahead of the interests of the Australian people, whose rights you are charged with protecting.

  4. Please protect Julian Assange’s rights and prevent his extradition to the United States. Clearly there is little chance he could receive a fair trial here. Also, as an American citizen, I fear the prosecution of Assange may set a dangerous precedent for potential future prosecutions of investigative journalists and could have many other far-reaching negative consequences. Thank you.

  5. Please add my name to the Letter. Julian Assange is a hero. He is truly a voice of the people.
    Beverly Kistenmacher
    Sioux Falls, SD, USA

  6. As a citizen of the United States, I deplore the persecution to which my government has subjected Julian Assange, WikiLeaks, and Bradley Manning. I wholeheartedly support the sentiment expressed by this letter for the Australian Government to protect its own citizen, Julian Assange, from dubious secret closed door negotiations to repress Freedom of Speech.eas

  7. Please add my name to the Rudd & Roxon email! It will soon be too late for Labor to ever again convince voters that it is a party of democracy & justice. Rudd, what hypocrisy to champion democracy in the middle east, but deny it to our own citizens!!

  8. I am very sorry that the Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has already deemed Mr Assange ‘guilty’ of a crime, when in fact he has not, to my knowledge, committed any crime in any country, including Australia. But sadly, Australia does not have a history of taking care of its own citizens, so I’m not sure if Kevin Rudd will be willing or able to help Mr Assange, a man wrongly accused of doing wrong by the very government which should in fact be assisting the citizens of this country, not colluding with other governments who in fact participate in torture and lies.

  9. Please add my name to the letter. Mr. Assange has removed the veils of government secrecy and has made the world a safer place. He must be provided the full protection of the law.

  10. I am deeply moved that so many Australians of integrity are standing beside Julian Assange and his rights as an Australian citizen in his hour of need. I imagine Julia Gillard likes to think of herself as a progressive and a believer in democracy. Assange has made a far greater (and far more original) contribution to modern democracy than she has. The absolute least her government should do, is affford him every citizen’s protection available. Anything less is unconscionable, an assault on democracy, and a failing of our nation.

  11. I support the letter’s arguments. Please add my name to the petition.
    I want the Australian Government to cease prejudging events. I want the Australian Government to support this Australian overseas.

  12. I expect our government to support citizens in difficulty overseas, especially where that difficulty is politically motivated

  13. Add my support for protection of Julian Assange, Australian citizen – a force for good. Too much secrecy – people need to know the truth about things even if uncomfortable.

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