Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese reaffirmed his government’s stance on Tuesday, expressing firm condemnation of the US prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Despite US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s prior dismissal of Canberra’s pleas, Albanese asserted that his government would persist in pressing the US to cease its legal pursuit.
“This has gone on for too long. Enough is enough,” Albanese emphasized during a press briefing. “We remain very firm in our view and in our representations to the American government, and we will continue to do so.”
Albanese’s determination to seek a resolution has been evident before, with previous declarations highlighting the need for a conclusion to the Assange case. In May, he stated that his government was “working through diplomatic channels” to resolve the matter with Washington, but he has not specified whether he seeks a complete dismissal of the case or a potential plea bargain.
During a joint appearance with Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong in Brisbane last Saturday, Blinken rejected the Australian plea. He underscored the serious nature of Assange’s alleged actions, contending that they posed significant risks to national security and endangered named human sources.
Assange, an Australian citizen, is currently held in London’s Belmarsh Prison, fighting extradition to the US where he faces 18 charges under the Espionage Act, carrying a possible 175-year prison sentence.
The charges stem from WikiLeaks’ publication of classified material provided by whistleblowers, including Pentagon documents exposing alleged US war crimes and diplomatic cables revealing US efforts to influence foreign elections.
Assange’s defense and supporters argue that the publication of this material is protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution, a viewpoint previously shared by former US President Barack Obama’s Justice Department, which opted not to pursue charges against the Australian, citing a lack of legal grounds.
Assange’s extradition was approved in 2020 by then-UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. In June, he lodged his final appeal against the decision after all eight grounds of a previous appeal were rejected by a High Court judge.
Despite the challenges and Blinken’s previous statements, Albanese remains resolute in his call for the US to reconsider its pursuit of the WikiLeaks founder, keeping the issue firmly on the agenda during diplomatic discussions with American counterparts.
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