Open letter published 30/5/2022
Aotearoa 4 Assange
1A Plane St, Avondale
Kia ora koutou honourable elected representatives,
Please find below an email sent today to Hon Anthony Albanese, calling on him to stand by his convictions and bring Julian Assange home. I urge you to read the letter and send your own messages of support to Mr Albanese on this vital human rights case.
Aotearoa 4 Assange also calls on you to make urgent representations to the UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, who this week will decide whether or not to sign Julian’s extradition to the US. It would be devastating for global press freedom if she does.
Finally we hope you may make contact with the Australian Committee to Bring Julian Assange Home, headed by Andrew Wilikie, comprising 30 MPs. We hope you may consider making a similar committee of Aotearoa MPs.
Congratulations Hon Anthony Albanese, please bring Julian Assange home.
Aotearoa 4 Assange implores you to stand by your convictions and secure the freedom of Julian Assange. As you’ve said nothing is ‘served by keeping him incarcerated’. We share your concern that a South Pacific journalist is imprisoned, for publishing material vital to the public interest. Rt. Hon Helen Clark said ‘you do wonder when the hatchet can be buried with Assange, and not buried in his head by the way?. . . The real issue really is the activities they were exposing, not their actions of exposure.’1
Julian has been arbitrarily detained for over a decade2, and held in solitary confinement for over three years.3 He recently suffered a stroke and according to a letter from hundreds of doctors his life is in peril.4 Furthermore, it has been reported that US officials at the highest levels plotted to assassinate him.5 Amnesty International said extraditing Julian to the US would ‘violate the prohibition against torture’.6
New Zealand MP and Human Rights lawyer Golriz Ghahraman said this is ‘a threat to press freedom around the world’, a statement echoed by every major press freedom group, and thus threatens the foundations of global democracy.7,8, 9
The charges criminalise publishing leaked evidence of US state crimes.10, 11, 12
There is no chance of justice in the US. Julian’s legally privileged consultations with his lawyers were spied on.13 Moreover the ‘Espionage Act’ prohibits any public interest defence.14, 15
If extradited to the US he would be detained in ‘conditions that amount to torture’.16, 17 Extradition would violate the principle of non-refoulement.18
Justice has not been seen in the UK extradition proceedings. Amnesty said the trial was a ‘circus’.19 IBAHRI said ‘with this extradition trial, we are witnessing the serious undermining of due processes and the rule of law.’20, 21, 22, Applications to monitor the trial from Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders were declined.23
Julian has been ‘arbitrarily detained’ for eleven years according to a UN Working Group.24
Julian has been ‘psychologically tortured’ according to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture.25
According to a letter signed by hundreds of doctors Julian is likely to die soon if not freed.26
Julian is an Australian hero. 250,000 Australians have signed a petition for his freedom.27 Every major human rights group, and hundreds of international MPs have called for his freedom.28 History will remember him well, and lament those who could prevent his maltreatment, but do nothing. We cannot rely on British or US justice in this instance. This is a political case and political intervention is required.
You are in prime position to bring an end to this. Stand for Julian Assange and restore integrity to Australian democracy and global press freedom.
Kia kaha. Bring Julian home.
Matt Ó Branáin
Aotearoa 4 Assange
+64 20 438 2863
1 Helen Clark speaks at The Archibald Baxter Memorial Trust Annual Peace Lecture 2021 - Video
2 ‘The right of Mr Assange to personal liberty should be restored.’ - UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention
3 ‘Why is a man who is neither dangerous nor violent held in solitary confinement?’ UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer
4 ‘Mr Assange could die in prison. . . There is no time to lose.’ - Lancet Medical Journal.
5 Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA’s secret war plans against WikiLeaks - Yahoo! News
6 Certifying Assange’s extradition ‘will violate the prohibition against torture.’ - Amnesty International
7 Golriz Ghahraman - Twitter
8 ‘This is about preventing a precedent likely to seal the fate of Western democracy. ‘ - UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer
9 ‘The charges . . . undermine the foundations of democracy and press freedom. . .’ - The Guardian, Editorial
10 This ‘is a direct threat to journalists everywhere in the world.’ - Executive Director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, Joel Simon
11 The charges ‘explicitly criminalize national security journalism’ - Executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, Trevor Timm
12 ‘Extraditing Assange would ‘set a dangerous precedent in the restriction of press freedom.’ - IBAHRI
13 ‘The CIA, illegally recorded all his actions and conversations, including with his lawyers.’ - The Hill.
14 ‘Jurors will be either employees of, or relatives, or friends of employees of, the CIA, the FBI, Dod’ - Former CIA Officer, John Kiriakou
15 ‘No public interest defence is permissible under the (1912 Espionage) act.’ - The Guardian, Editorial
16 If extradited to the US Assange ‘would face a real risk of serious human rights violations’ - Amnesty International
17 He ‘would be exposed to conditions of detention, which ... amount to torture.’ - UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer
18 ‘The UK has an obligation not to send any person to a place where their life or safety is at risk’ - Amnesty International
19 Why are Amnesty International monitors not able to observe the Assange hearing? - Amnesty International
20 A UK judge who has been central in proceedings against Assange has significant conflicts of interest. - Declassified UK
21 ‘This extradition proceeding has become irreparably arbitrary.’ - UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer
22 ‘We are witnessing the serious undermining of due processes and the rule of law.’ - Anne Ramberg Dr jur hc, IBAHRI co-chair
23 ‘I have never in my career faced so much difficulty attempting to trial monitor as in Julian Assange’s case.’ - Rebecca Vincent, RSF
24 ‘The right of Mr Assange to personal liberty should be restored.’ - UN WGAD
25 ‘Julian Assange has been intentionally psychologically tortured.’ - UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer,
26 ‘Mr Assange could die in prison. . . There is no time to lose.’ - Open letter signed by hundreds of doctors, Lancet Medical Journal.
27 700K-signature Assange Petition to be Presented to Parliament - Tasmanian Times
28 List of Human Rights and Press Freedom groups supporting Assange