Expressing “frustration” over continued incarceration and the US pursuit of whistleblower, Julian Assange, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said the case “needs to be brought to a conclusion”, Anadolu News Agency reports.
“It needs to be worked through, we’re working through diplomatic channels, we’re making very clear what our position is on Mr. Assange’s case,” Albanese told ABC News on Thursday night in an interview in the UK, where Assange has been held in a prison for the past four years.
Concerned about Assange’s health, Anthony said he was frustrated because his government was not able to find any diplomatic solution to Assange’s ongoing incarceration.
“I continue to say in private what I said publicly as Labour leader and what I’ve said as Prime Minister, that enough is enough,” Albanese told the Australian broadcaster.
The Australian Premier is in the UK to attend the coronation of King Charles III.
“This needs to be brought to a conclusion,” he said about the case of WikiLeaks publisher, whose custody is wanted by the US government which has pursuing extradition of Assange from the UK.
Assange, an Australian citizen, is being held in the UK, where authorities approved his extradition to the US last year. He is wanted for his alleged role in espionage and the dissemination of classified US military information.
He was dragged out of Ecuador’s Embassy building in London in 2019, where he took refuge for more than seven years. If extradited to the US, Assange faces a prison sentence of up to 175 years.
While the UK has agreed to Washington’s demand, Assange, however, has appealed the decision through the court.
Australia’s top diplomat in the UK, Stephen Smith, visited Assange last month in the Belmarsh Prison.
On failure of any diplomatic solution to end Assange’s case, Albanese said: “I know it’s frustrating. I share the frustration. I can’t do more than make very clear what my position is.
“And the US administration is certainly very aware of what the Australian government’s position is.
Albanese said punishment meted out to Assange has been “disproportionate”.
“There is nothing to be served by his ongoing incarceration,” Albanese said.
He added that the case had to be in terms of whether the time had “effectively served” was more than a “reasonable” sentence if he examined against him were proved.
“I think that when Australians look at the circumstances, look at the fact that the person who released the information (Chelsea Manning) is walking freely now, having served some time in incarceration but is now released for a long period of time, then they’ll see that there is a disconnect there,” he explained.