Australian MPs call for Assange’s release

A motion calling for Julian Assange's return passed the House of Representatives with the support of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
Julian Assange faces extradition to the U.S.

Federal MPs have passed a vote calling for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s safe return to Australia.

Assange has been detained in the UK since 2019 but faces forced removal to the U.S. to face spying charges as early as next week.

The charges relate to classified U.S. Government documents published by Assange.

The House of Representatives passed a motion on Wednesday calling on U.S. and UK officials to drop the legal case against Assange and allow him to return home.

Julian Assange motion

Assange spent seven years inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London until his political asylum was revoked in 2019.

He has since been held in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison, where he married his wife Stella in 2022. The pair have two children together.

Next week, Assange will face a hearing at the UK’s High Court of Justice to determine if he can appeal his extradition to the U.S..

If his appeal is denied, Assange will face trial in the U.S. which could end in life behind bars.

The motion

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who will be at the UK hearing next week, moved the motion in Parliament this week.

Passing a motion is not as powerful as passing a law, but it means MPs can be officially called on to give an opinion on an issue or proposal.

The Labor Government supported the motion while most of the Opposition voted against it. However, Liberal MP Bridget Archer supported the motion.

Shadow Immigration Minister Dan Tehan accused the motion of “criticising” the U.S. for prosecuting Assange.

Does the Julian Assange motion matter?

The motion won’t have a direct impact on the outcome of the UK High Court decision, or any possible sentencing in the U.S..

However, it makes clear the position of the majority of Australian leaders, including Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, on Assange’s legal case.

This could influence the next steps of UK and U.S. lawmakers.

Australian response

The motion follows growing calls for Assange’s release. A delegation of Australian politicians travelled to Washington D.C. in September to lobby U.S. lawmakers to drop their case against Assange.

The following month, Albanese raised Assange’s case with U.S. President Joe Biden during a meeting at the White House.

Assange’s letter

Assange wrote an open letter to King Charles III last year, his first public statement since entering Belmarsh prison.

Assange criticised the conditions at the prison and his detention in the UK while he faces extradition.

He invited the King to visit Belmarsh, saying: “One can truly know the measure of a society by how it treats its prisoners”.

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