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Aussie lawmakers to visit US to secure release of Julian Assange

September 5, 2023 at 3:22 pm

Protesters hold up a sign that says ‘Free Julian Assange’ by the Assange statue in London. [ Martin Pope/Getty Images]

A cross-party delegation of Australian lawmakers will head to the US later this month to urge Washington to abandon its demand for the extradition of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, Anadolu Agency reports.

The delegation includes Barnaby Joyce, Tony Zappia and independent lawmaker, Monique Ryan.

Ryan told the broadcaster, ABC, they feel “really, really strongly about the importance of securing Mr. Assange’s freedom.”

If the trip materialises, it would come ahead of a planned visit by Australian Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, next month to the White House.

Canberra has earlier said it wants Assange’s case to be brought to a “conclusion“.

However, the US rejected Canberra’s call to end the WikiLeaks founder’s imprisonment – “a rare flash of disagreement” between the two allies.

READ: China: Assange case reflects US, UK hypocrisy on press freedom

Assange, an Australian citizen, is being held in the UK, where authorities authorised his extradition to the US last year.

He is wanted for his alleged role in espionage and the dissemination of classified US military information.

The US Justice Department labelled Assange’s actions as part of the “largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.”

In November, last year, major global media outlets joined forces to call on the US to drop charges against the WikiLeaks founder and to halt his prosecution in order to protect journalism.

He has been on remand for about four years at Belmarsh Prison, after spending seven years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he initially sought diplomatic asylum from Swedish authorities.

READ: FBI launches fresh probe into Julian Assange case: Report