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. Please add my name is support of Julian Assange.
    this government’s record on upholding human rights is abysmal, and the silence about Julian Assange is another example. I am ashamed of this government.

  2. As a person with the courage of his convictions, Julian Assange deserves strong support from everyone, especially the Australian government.

  3. International politics is a game of lie, rob, plunder or cheat. Simply because Julian Assange exposed some of the details of the game is no reason for the exposed to “take right and use might” of passage and imprison or detain a yet to be tried citizen.
    Preemptive attack is the play of weakness using “king hits”.
    Hon Mr Rudd we seek your intervention and support for Julian Assange’s innocence.

  4. In these matters it is the USA that appears to be the biggest terrorist organisation in the world. We cannot allow them to dictate the terms of so-called ‘freedom of speech’.

  5. Thank you for doing this, please add my name.
    For anyone in Sydney interested in organising actions in support of Assange, please contact me at lmp333@hotmail.com.
    We’ll be holding vigils to coincide with Assange’s Supreme Court hearing on 1 and 2 February, and we’re organising a public forum on WikiLeaks, Assange and Democracy to be held in Sydney in February.
    Follow us on twitter for updates: @stopwarsyd

  6. I would happily add my name to this letter in support of the rights, freedoms and due process that should be afforded to Julian Assange (or any Australian citizens).

  7. Please add my name. The lack of regard given to Mr Assange’s human and journalistic rights by the Australian government shamefully illustrates the cringing nature of our relationship with the USA.

  8. I would like our government to identify exactly what Julian has done that is illegal. Freedom of speak must our goal and and the goal of our government to keep this country open, fair and honest.

    Please add my name in Support of Julians cause.
    Cameron Paice

  9. Justin Boyd, please add my name in support. While I don’t necessarily agree with the practice of dealing in information, and potentially exposing government agents to danger, I do agree with the unassailability of human rights.

    Julian Assange deserves the right to a fair trial, not one built upon government-interests.

  10. I’d like to back Mr Assange and in so doing, add my voice to freedom of speech. Assange has simply notified the US and us of some areas of government in serious need of attention.

  11. Bravo and thank you all for this letter. It is truly shameful how our PM and her AG declared Assange guilty, and how they have failed to apologise for that, or provide full government support.

    It is also shameful how few other Labor or Liberal MPs dare to speak out and support this brave Australian.

  12. When will people larn that relying on political parasites to defend individual rights, is nonsense? Might as well PRAY for all the good it will do.

    Here’s something that would guarantee Assange’s safety: make it clear to anyone who participates in some stupid theatrical ‘legal’ set-piece that deprives Assange of his liberty, that they will never, for the rest of their lives, be able to “tell pale-hearted fear it lies, and sleep in spite of thunder”.

    That goes for the robed geriatrics in their 16th century costumes, the badged and constumed jailers etc (who Thoreau rightly placed on a par with straw or lumps of dirt); everyone who participates.

    Reliance on politicians – when the state is clearly showing itself neither capable nor willing to do anything except tend to its own malignant metastasis – is flat-out dopey.

    Mencken wrote famously that there comes a time when a reasonable man has to hoist the black flag and start slitting throats; Diderot made it clear that man will be free when the last king (politician) is strangled ith the entrails of the last priest (or judge). We are there, folks: they have thrown taxes – collected by force -onto a bonfire in order to make their financiers a minute amount more rich. They are NOT here to help.

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