Andrew Wilkie says Australia can release Julian Assange

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie responded to Australia’s claims that there were no legal grounds for intervening in the Julian Assange case.
Mr. Wilkie, a former intelligence analyst and prominent advocate for Mr. Assange, says the issue can be quickly resolved on a political level.
“Governments and politicians should stop hiding behind the fact that the Julian Assange case is a legal matter,” he told AAP.

“It’s always been a very political issue.”


The comments came after former Attorney General George Brandis said Australia had no legal basis in Mr Assange’s case.
“Australia was not a party to the proceedings and had no right to intervene,” Mr Brandis told ABC.

“It was a lawsuit in a British court between the United States government and a private individual. We will not interfere in this process.”

Government urged to promote Julian Assange's image of freedom

The WikiLeaks founder and Australian journalist has asked the High Court in London to block his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges in the latest phase of a legal battle that has dragged on for more than a decade.
Assange, 50, is wanted by US authorities on 18 counts, including a spying charge related to WikiLeaks’ release of a plethora of confidential US military documents and diplomatic cables that US officials say put people’s lives in danger.
Last month, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel approved his extradition, and her office said British courts had concluded that his extradition would not contravene his human rights and that he would be treated appropriately.

However, Mr Wilkie said the issue could be resolved with a phone call from Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the US or the UK.


“This has been going on long enough, it’s time to put an end to it,” he said.
“I have no doubt that Australia has enough influence to put an end to this, we underestimate ourselves to think otherwise, and we are close allies of both countries.”
The independent MP said he remained optimistic that Assange’s results would change following the change of government in Australia in May’s federal election.
“We hope that with the change of government we will see some progress on this issue,” Mr. Wilkie said.
Mr. Albanese said he saw no purpose in the ongoing persecution of Mr. Assange.

But he said that the government will resolve this issue through diplomatic channels.

Former Foreign Secretary Bob Carr said on Friday the government should tell the US that “the Australians want Assange’s extradition to be quietly shelved,” just as the US commuted the sentence of whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
Mr Brandis, who ran consular assistance for Mr Assange when he was Australia’s high commissioner in London, said he made sure staff were always available to meet a journalist’s “reasonable requests”.
“I’ve established a habit of writing to him every month to ask if he needs anything else,” Brandis said.

“Most of these letters went unanswered, but to my knowledge there has not been a single complaint from Mr Assange or his deputies that the Australian High Commission has not provided an adequate level of consular support.”