Australian Senator speaks out against Assange rendition

Posted on November 23, 2011

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This week, Australian senator Scott Ludlam addressed the Senate and called on the Australian foreign minister to explain what steps he had taken to prevent Assange’s rendition to the U.S. Expressing support for Assange as a journalist, Ludlam warned about the potential dangers to Assange’s life, in the event of U.S. extradition. An excerpt from his address:

“The consular and legal rights of an Australian citizen, the editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, Mr Julian Assange, are the focus of my questions. It is the responsibility of this government to insist on fair and due process and the rule of law if he is extradited to Sweden to face charges there. But what is of very grave concern to me and what is of grave concern to many people around the world is the potential that he will then be rendered from Sweden to the United States, where he has broken no law. …

Mr Assange was recognised as a journalist by the High Court of the UK. As a journalist and, through WikiLeaks, as a publisher, he has broken no law, just as the people who put his material on the front page of The Age and The New York Times have broken no law. My questions … seek to clarify what our government has done and what our government is prepared to do to ensure that he is not subject to rendition to the United States, where, as we know, his life is under threat. There has been speculation that Mr Assange would be extradited to the United States from Sweden, but extradition requests, as we know, come with safeguards. We are much more concerned that, under a bilateral agreement between Sweden and the US, he could be transferred without any due process at all-a form of soft rendition known as temporary surrender. What happens once he gets there?

US Republicans Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee have called for him to be executed. Palin has said he should be hunted down like al-Qaeda. Vice President Joe Biden has said that he is a high-tech terrorist and that we should treat Mr Assange the same way as other high-value terrorist targets. ‘Kill him,’ writes conservative columnist Jeffrey T Kuhner in the Washington Times.

William Kristol, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Dan Quayle, has asked: Why can’t we use our various assets to harass, snatch or neutralise Julian Assange and his collaborators, wherever they are? ‘Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?’ writes prominent US pundit Jonah Goldberg. …

Mr Assange’s life is in danger in the US but so too are the First Amendment principles upheld in the Pentagon Papers case. …

The UK High Court has recognised Mr Assange is a journalist and Wikileaks is a publishing organisation. It is not, therefore, just the Wikileaks organisation that is under attack; it is all of us.”

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