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Assange family urges Australia to do more

By EARLE GALE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2022-08-05 09:30

People walk past a mural of Julian Assange in a Melbourne inner-city laneway on June 20, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

The family of Australian citizen Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder being extradited from the United Kingdom to the United States, has urged the Australian government to intervene in his case.

Assange, who allegedly made public a wealth of sensitive leaked information while at the helm of WikiLeaks, is being held in a maximum security cell in the UK's Belmarsh prison while his legal team appeals Home Secretary Priti Patel's decision to extradite him to the US.

His brother, Gabriel Shipton, said Assange could even take his own life if faced with the certainty of a lifetime in a US prison.

The Guardian newspaper quoted Shipton as saying Australia's new prime minister, Anthony Albanese, was supportive of Assange when leading the opposition and must do more now he is national leader.

"It is months ago now that he said this stuff and made the statement that enough is enough, but when is enough, enough?" he said.

Shipton said Albanese "could pick up the phone and call (US President) Joe Biden and make it a non-negotiable" for Assange to be returned to Australia.

"We are strategically vital to the US at the moment. They need our resources. If it was made a non-negotiable, Julian would be here tomorrow," he said.

The family has also approached the new US ambassador to Australia, Caroline Kennedy, seeking an end to his incarceration. It has called for face-to-face meetings with either Albanese, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, or Attorney General Mark Dreyfus.

Since becoming prime minister Albanese has said he will seek a diplomatic solution but that "not all foreign aff airs is best done with the loudhailer", suggesting talks are continuing behind the scenes.

One possible outcome could be that, if convicted, Assange serves any sentence in an Australian prison, under the terms of the International Transfer of Prisoners initiative.

The US has sought Assange ever since WikiLeaks published leaked US diplomatic cables in 2010. If convicted of all charges, he could get a sentence of up to 175 years.

Sky News Australia said Shipton noted there has at least been "a change of approach" and rhetoric from Australia.

"But Julian's situation hasn't changed," he said. "He's still in a maximum security prison where he's been for the last three years."

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