...By Gift BADEWO for TDPel Media.
Australia’s High Commissioner Urges Conclusion to Julian Assange’s Case
The case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has “dragged on too long,” according to Australia’s High Commissioner to the UK, Stephen Smith.
Assange, who has been held in London’s Belmarsh prison since 2019 while fighting extradition proceedings to the US on espionage charges, received a consular visit from Smith on Tuesday.
It was the first time a high commissioner had met with the Australian behind bars since November 2019.
Smith emphasized the Australian government’s view that Assange’s case has been ongoing for too long and needs a conclusion.
Consular Visit vs. Diplomatic Support
While Smith’s visit was a consular one, Assange has been calling for diplomatic support from the Australian government to help him avoid extradition and be released from jail.
The Australian embassy or consulate provides the service of visiting prisoners from Australia in the countries they operate in.
This consular obligation differs from the diplomatic support Assange seeks, which would involve Australia advocating for his release.
Assange’s lawyers had emailed the Australian High Commission in February, stating that Assange would welcome a visit from Smith to obtain diplomatic support to be advanced by the Australian government in his case.
Appeals Still Ongoing
Assange’s appeals to prevent his extradition to the US are still before UK courts.
His father, John Shipton, welcomed Smith’s visit as an opportunity for the high commissioner to witness the “appalling conditions” in which his son is being kept and the “terrible toll” on his health and family.
Background on Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
Assange founded WikiLeaks in 2006 with the aim of releasing information on the internet that governments and corporations wanted to keep secret.
The organization gained international attention in 2010 when it published a series of military leaks provided by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
The US government launched a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks following the leaks.
In November 2010, Sweden issued an arrest warrant for Assange over allegations of sexual misconduct, which he denied and claimed was a ruse for further extradition to the US over his role in publishing secret US military documents.
Assange lived in Ecuador’s embassy in London from June 2012 until April 2019, when his asylum was withdrawn and he was arrested by British police.
He has been fighting extradition to the US ever since.
Assange’s case has been the subject of ongoing debate, with opinions varying on whether he is a hero or a villain.
The case has raised important questions about freedom of the press and the limits of government secrecy.
Many have argued that Assange’s actions in publishing classified information have exposed corruption and wrongdoing and are therefore in the public interest.
Others view him as a threat to national security and argue that his actions have put lives at risk.
Regardless of one’s opinion of Assange and WikiLeaks, it is clear that his case has been ongoing for an extended period, and the conditions of his confinement have been a cause for concern.
Smith’s visit is a positive step in ensuring that Assange’s consular rights are being upheld, but it remains to be seen whether diplomatic support from the Australian government will be forthcoming.
The appeals process also continues, so it is likely that the case will remain in the spotlight for some time to come.