Assange Decision Welcomed by Australian Journalists’ Union

Assange’s brother would soon travel from London to the U.S. to lobby officials.
Assange Decision Welcomed by Australian Journalists’ Union
Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London on May 19, 2017. (Frank Augstein/AP Photo)

A High Court decision in Britain to allow Julian Assange to appeal his extradition to the United States is a “small win” for the WikiLeaks founder but he should be freed now, the union for Australia’s journalists says.

The Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance remains concerned there is no certainty an appeal will be successful, which would mean Assange could still be tried for espionage in the U.S.

The Australian’s lawyers argued he might not be able to rely on his right to free speech in a U.S. court.

The 52-year-old remains in jail in the UK and is wanted in the U.S. on 18 charges, nearly all under the Espionage Act, relating to WikiLeaks’ mass release of secret US documents—the largest security breaches of their kind in U.S. military history.

The High Court had in March granted him provisional permission to appeal on grounds that he might be discriminated against as a foreign national, but invited the U.S. to submit assurances.

After May 20th’s hearing, two senior judges said Assange’s argument that he might not be able to rely on the U.S. First Amendment right to free speech deserved a full appeal—which is unlikely to be held for months.

MEAA Media Federal President Karen Percy said the High Court was correct in not accepting “assurances” by the U.S. about how Assange would be treated in the U.S. legal system.

“Tonight’s decision by the High Court is a small win for Julian Assange and for the cause of media freedom worldwide,” she said in a statement early on May 21.

But MEAA urged U.S. President Joe Biden to intervene to end the prosecution of Assange to avoid dragging the case out even longer, Ms. Percy said.

“MEAA welcomes the decision of the High Court, but we remain concerned that there is no guarantee of success.”

Ms. Percy said the ongoing prosecution was curtailing free speech, criminalising journalism, and sending a clear message to future whistleblowers and publishers that they too will be punished.

“We call on the Australian government to keep up the pressure on the U.S. to drop the charges so Julian Assange can be reunited with his family.”

Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton told the ABC he would soon travel from London to the U.S. to lobby officials.

“The only way that this is going to come to a quick conclusion is through the Australian government’s advocacy and them using their coercive leverage with the United States, to get Julian home,” he said.