Julian Assange’s stroke and how you can take action to stop extradition

@MaryKostakidis Australian journalist, who was reporting from the #Assange courtroom on the day of his minor stroke, describes what she saw and asks why his terrible appearance and what was happening to him never became an issue with the court.



by John Jiggens

The UK Home Office has ordered the extradition of Julian Assange to the US. The UK courts found it would not be “incompatible with his human rights, including his right to a fair trial and to freedom of expression” to extradite him to a country whose intelligence agencies plotted his kidnapping and murder, and where his ‘fair trial’ will be held in a court that always convicts.

The UK Supreme Court overturned the lower court decision against extradition after the US promised that their treatment of Assange would not be oppressive, unjust or an abuse of process. No doubt these judges would have accepted Saudis reassurances that they would treat Adam Khashoggi with great dignity too.

What can we do?

The new government are showing signs of standing up for Julian, as are the non-Murdoch press, but that means standing up to the US, and everyone is justifiably terrified of what the US bullies will do if they don’t get their way. The Albanese government must be persuaded that they have wide-spread Australian support.

Independent MP Andrew Wilkie, the chair of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group, condemned Britain’s decision an outrageous betrayal of the rule of law, media freedom and human rights, and he added that the time was up for the new federal government hinting at caring and then doing nothing.

“The new Australian government is now to be condemned for abandoning an Australian hero journalist facing the very real prospect of spending the rest of his life rotting in a US prison.”

The victory of Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party in the Australian election brings us new hope. Our new Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus issued a statement last year saying that Labor wanted the Assange matter ‘brought to an end’. Anthony Albanese, our new Prime Minister, said that he couldn’t see any purpose to keeping Assange in jail and that “enough is enough”.

But are these weasel words?

The battle to stop the extradition of Julian Assange hangs in the balance but it depends on all of us! Urge Labor to stand up for Julian! Join us on July 3, 2-4pm, Bunyapa Park, West End!

Email Albo: pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm


Senator Penny Wong, https://www.pennywong.com.au/contact/

Attorney General Mark Dreyfus, https://www.aph.gov.au/

Find them on Twitter: @AlboMP @SenatorWong @markdreyfusQCMP

US/UK: Decision to extradite Julian Assange to the United States condemned

Friday 17 June 2022 – 12:24pm

Julian Assange (CC Wiki Commons)

We, the undersigned PEN Centres, strongly condemn the decision of the UK Home Secretary to approve the extradition of Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange to the US, where he faces up to 175 years in prison for his role in obtaining and publishing classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

Our organisations have repeatedly stressed that Julian Assange’s prosecution raises profound concerns about freedom of the press. Invoking the Espionage Act for practices that include receiving and publishing classified information sends a dangerous signal to journalists and publishers worldwide. The state’s desire to keep matters secret does not automatically override the public’s right to know, particularly where there is strong evidence of human rights violations or corruption.

The UK Home Secretary’s decision to approve the extradition of Julian Assange contradicts the UK’s stated commitment to protect media freedom globally. So does the fact that he has been held in remand for over three years at London’s high-security Belmarsh prison, despite the great risks posed to his mental health and physical well-being. The UN Special Rapporteur on torture has repeatedly raised concerns about Assange’s health during his detention in Belmarsh prison. Furthermore, he has made clear that he considers that both the detention conditions in the US and the sentence likely to be imposed on Assange present a real risk of torture, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Julian Assange has 14 days to appeal. As his legal team continues to fight against his extradition, we urge the UK authorities to release him from Belmarsh prison immediately, so he can be reunited with his family at long last.

We once again call on the US authorities to drop all charges against Julian Assange. Espionage laws should not be used against journalists and publishers for disclosing information of public interest.

Signed by

PEN International

English PEN

Croatian PEN

French PEN

German PEN

PEN Melbourne

PEN Norway

PEN Slovenia

PEN Suisse Romand

PEN Sydney

PEN Trieste

Scottish PEN

Swedish PEN

Swiss-German PEN Center

Uyghur PEN

Background information

Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange was arrested in April 2019 at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had been given asylum for almost seven years. He was arrested for breaching his bail conditions in 2012, and further arrested on behalf of the US authorities under an extradition warrant for his role in obtaining and publishing classified military and diplomatic documents in 2010.

In the US, Assange would face trial on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which combined could see him imprisoned for up to 175 years.

In March 2022, the UK Supreme Court denied Assange’s request to appeal an earlier decision by the UK High Court that permitted his extradition to the US – which in turn had overturned a previous ruling by the District Court that found extradition would endanger his life.

Assange is the first publisher to be charged under the Espionage Act. He is an honorary member of German PEN, PEN Melbourne, and PEN Slovenia.


Today Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, Priti Patel, granted the extradition of Julian Assange to the United States, setting a dangerous precedent for all media, publishers and journalists.

Mr Assange faces 175 years in a US prison under the 1917 Espionage Act for exposing evidence of US war crimes.

Members of the Australian Assange Campaign have called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC to do everything in their power to prevent the extradition and defend the rights of Australian citizens.

A spokesperson for the Campaign said they are confident the new Australian government is aware of the significance of the Home Secretary’s decision and of the dangerous precedent it sets.

“It effectively means any publisher or journalist can be extradited to the US for exposing that government’s crimes, no matter what their nationality or where in the world they have reported from,” they said.

While fighting the extradition, Mr Assange has spent the last three years detained in HMP Belmarsh, the United Kingdom’s highest security prison, without being convicted of any crime and without being granted bail.

All major human rights and journalism organisations in Australia and across the world have condemned the prosecution as an attack on press freedom, sovereignty, and democracy.

Write to your MP now and make it clear that Julian has suffered enough: https://ithaka.movie/take-action/

Louise and Leeanne
ithaka Impact Team


Please find below PEN International’s latest joint statement, condemning the decision to extradite Wikileaks founder and publisher Julian Assange to the US.


The statement is also available at the following link: https://pen-international.org/news/us-uk-decision-to-extradite-julian-assange-to-the-united-states-condemned


Twitter: https://twitter.com/pen_int/status/1537760636796604417

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peninternational/


Special PEN screening for World Press Freedom Day, Tuesday, 3rd May at NOVA 6.30pm

Please book your tickets at the link below:



A father. A family. A fight for justice.

Directed and written by Ben Lawrence, produced by Gabriel Shipton.

Filmed over two years across the UK, Europe and the US, this documentary follows 76 year-old retired builder, John Shipton’s tireless campaign to save his son, Julian Assange.

The world’s most famous political prisoner, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, has become an emblem of an international arm wrestle over freedom of journalism, government corruption and unpunished war crimes.

Now with Julian facing a 175 year sentence if extradited to the US, his family members are confronting the prospect of losing Julian forever to the abyss of the US justice system.

This David-and-Goliath struggle is personal – and, with Julian’s health declining in a British maximum-security prison and American government prosecutors attempting to extradite him to face trial in the US , the clock is ticking.

Weaving historic archive and intimate behind-the-scenes footage, this story tracks John’s journey alongside Julian’s fiancée, Stella Moris, as they join forces to advocate for Julian. We witness John embark on a European odyssey to rally a global network of supporters, advocate to politicians and cautiously step into the media’s glare – where he is forced to confront events that made Julian a global flashpoint.

Ithaka provides a timely reminder of the global issues at stake in this case, as well as an insight into the personal toll inflicted by the arduous, often lonely task of fighting for a cause bigger than oneself.

Screenings with Q & As
19 Apr – SYD – Dendy Newtown – John Shipton, Gabriel Shipton, Ben Lawrence
20 Apr – SYD – Dendy Canberra – John Shipton, Gabriel Shipton
21 Apr – MELB – Cinema Nova, Melbourne – John Shipton, Gabriel Shipton
24 April – WA – Luna Leederville – Jen Robertson
24 May – SYD – Judith Neilson Institute – with the Australian Human Rights Institute (AHRI) – with Jennifer Robinson and Ed Coper
Screenings without Q & As  – nb more to be confirmed soon
23 / 24 April – SYD – Parramatta Riverside 
21 April – SYD – Ritz
21 April – MELB – Lido 
21 April – MELB – Classic Elternwick
21 April – QLD – Dendy Southport 
21 April – WA – Luna Leederville
29 April + May 1 – Screenwave 
29 April – Cinefest Oz

Media Release 25 January 2022

Prime Minister Morrison must take action to secure Julian Assange’s freedom

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison must immediately call UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Biden to seek their agreement to the dropping of all charges against Julian Assange.  He is an Australian citizen who should be welcomed home to Australia,” said Kathryn Kelly, Co-convenor of the Alliance Against Political Prosecutions.

“This travesty of justice has been going on for far too long. The fact that Assange published information about US war crimes in Iraq is what he is being persecuted for, and further, it has been shown that a witness in his case lied and is an unreliable witness,” she continued.

“Julian Assange has not seen freedom for 10 years. It is a sentence longer than most criminals serve, and he is not a criminal. His health is failing – this inhumanity and injustice must stop,” Ms Kelly said.

“The Prime Minister should use his influence with both Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President Joe Biden to secure Assange’s release.”

Kathryn Kelly Co-convenor,  Alliance Against Political Prosecutions

0417 269 984 PO Box 549, Curtin, ACT   2605

Bernard Keane, CIA’s Assange abduction/murder plan raises questions for Australian government, 27 September, 2021

Amy Goodman,Attorney: U.S. Case Against Julian Assange Falls Apart, as Key Witness Says He Lied to Get Immunity, Democracy Now, 28 June 2021





The link above has the full Guardian article by Ben Quinn with a video: Julian Assange wins first stage of attempt to appeal against extradition

WikiLeaks founder is seeking to appeal against ruling that he can be sent to US to face espionage charges

The WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will be able to go to the supreme court in the UK to challenge a decision allowing him to be extradited to the US to face espionage charges.

However, the high court refused him permission for a direct appeal, meaning the supreme court will first have to decide whether or not it should hear his challenge.

The high court last month ruled that the WikiLeaks co-founder can be extradited, as it overturned a judgment earlier last year based on concerns about Assange’s mental health and risk of suicide in a US maximum-security prison.

In their ruling in December, the high court judges sided with the US authorities after a package of assurances were put forward that Assange would not face those strictest measures unless he committed an act in the future that required them.

Stella Moris, Assange’s fiancee, said after Monday’s ruling that what happened in court was precisely what she and those supporting him had wanted to happen.

“The situation now is that the supreme court has to decide whether it will hear the appeal but, make no mistake, we won today in court.”

A case has to raise a point of law of “general public importance” for a proposed appeal to be considered by the supreme court. Birnberg Peirce Solicitors, representing Assange, has previously said the case raised “serious and important” legal issues, including over a “reliance” on assurances given by the US about the prison conditions he would face if extradited.

In their short pronouncement on Monday, the lord chief justice, Lord Burnett, and Lord Justice Holroyde ruled there was a point of law, but denied Assange permission for the appeal.

They said that Assange had raised three points of law for the supreme court bid, but only succeeded on one about the use of assurances in extradition hearings. They added it was for the supreme court justices to make the final decision.

Burnett asked the court to “take steps to expedite consideration of any application” that follows.

Speaking outside the Royal Courts of Justice on Monday, Moris told supporters: “But let’s not forget that every time we win, as long as this case isn’t dropped, as long as Julian isn’t freed, Julian continues to suffer. For almost three years he has been in Belmarsh prison and he is suffering profoundly, day after day, week after week, year after year. Julian has to be freed and we hope that this will soon end.

“But we are far from achieving justice in this case because Julian has been incarcerated for so long and he should not have spent a single day in prison.”

“If there were justice, the crimes that Julian exposed, war crimes, the killing of innocent civilians, would not be immune.”

Nick Vamos, a partner at Peters and Peters solicitors in London and a former head of extradition at the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “There will be a little bit of surprise about this as there is settled case law on the question that has been certified. However, in its 10 December judgment the high court discussed the different circumstances in which assurances could be considered on appeal, so it’s not completely black and white.

“The supreme court could well say: ‘We are not interested in this question about the assurances because it has already been settled at high court level.’ Even if the supreme court takes the appeal, it may clarify the law for future cases in a way that makes no difference to Assange’s appeal.”

Assange, who remains in prison, would have other routes to fight his extradition, irrespective of what happens in relation to any supreme court appeal.

Were he to fail, his lawyers could mount a cross-appeal at a lower court level, which would take place first at the high court and focus on questions of free speech and political motivation of the extradition request.

Petition update from change.org

Stella Moris statement on Julian Assange’s Supreme Court appeal

Don’t Extradite Assange Campaign

United Kingdom

Dec 24, 2021 — 

December 23, 2021 — This morning at 11:05 Julian Assange filed an application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court the High Court’s ruling that he can be extradited to the US on three grounds.

The High Court’s ruling in USA v Assange raises three points of law of general public importance that have an impact on the procedural and human rights safeguards of a wide range of other types of cases.

On December 10th, the High Court upheld the Magistrates’ Court’s assessment, based on the evidence before her, that there was a real risk that, should Julian Assange be extradited to the United States, he would be subjected to near total isolation, including under the regimes of SAMs (Special Administrative Measures) and/or ADX, (administrative maximum prison) and that such isolation would cause his mental condition to deteriorate to such a degree that there was a high risk of suicide. These findings led the lower court to block the extradition under s. 91 of the Extradition Act, which bans “oppressive” extraditions.

However, the High Court overturned the lower court’s decision to block the extradition, based solely on the fact that after the US lost the extradition case on January 4th 2021, the US State Department sent a letter to the UK Foreign Office containing conditional assurances in relation to Julian Assange’s placement under SAMs and ADX. The assurances letter explicitly states in points one and four that “the United States retains the power” to “impose SAMs” on Mr. Assange and to “designate Mr. Assange to ADX” should he say or do anything since January 4, 2021 that would cause the US government to determine, in its subjective assessment, that Julian Assange should be placed under SAMs conditions and/or in ADX Florence. These conditional assurances alone were considered sufficient by the High Court to overturn the lower court’s decision.

Under English law, in order for the application to have a chance to be considered by the Supreme Court, first the same High Court judges who ordered Julian Assange’s extradition must certify that at least one of the Supreme Court appeal grounds is a point of law of general public importance (s.114 of the 2003 Extradition Act).

Julian Assange’s application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is therefore currently under consideration by the High Court judges. It is not known how long it will take for the decision to come down, but it is not expected before the third week of January.

For background, see Julian Assange’s filing opposing the US extradition in the High Court.

Stella Moris


New files expose Australian govt’s betrayal of Julian Assange and detail his prison torment

Documents provided exclusively to The Grayzone detail Canberra’s abandonment of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, and provide shocking details of his prison suffering

Was the government of Australia aware of the US Central Intelligence Agency plot to assassinate Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and journalist arrested and now imprisoned under unrelentingly bleak, harsh conditions in the UK?

Why have the country’s elected leaders refused to publicly advocate for one of its citizens, who has been held on dubious charges and subjected to torture by a foreign power, according to UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer? What does Canberra know about Julian’s fate and when did it know it?

The Grayzone has obtained documents revealing that the Australian government has since day one been well-aware of Julian’s cruel treatment inside London’s maximum security Belmarsh Prison, and has done little to nothing about it. It has, in fact, turned a cold shoulder to the jailed journalist despite hearing his testimony of conditions “so bad that his mind was shutting down.”

Not only has Canberra failed to effectively challenge the US and UK governments overseeing Assange’s imprisonment and prosecution; as these documents expose in stark detail, it appears to have colluded with them in the flagrant violation of an Australian citizen’s human rights, while doing its best to obscure the reality of his situation from the public.

On knowledge of CIA plot against Assange, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs issues snide non-denial denial

In the wake of Yahoo News’ startling September revelations of CIA plans to surveil, kidnap, and even kill WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, which confirmed and built upon a May 2020 exposé by The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal, officials in the NATO-oriented ‘Five Eyes’ global spying network struggled to get their stories straight.

William Evanina, Washington’s top counterintelligence officer until his retirement in early 2021, told Yahoo the Five Eyes alliance was “critical” to Langley’s dastardly plot, and “we were very confident” that Julian’s potential escape from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London could be prevented, by hook or by crook.

When asked whether the US had ever briefed or consulted the government of Julian’s native Australia on the operation, however, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) dodged the question. For his part, Malcolm Turnbull, the Australian Prime Minister at the time of these deadly deliberations, claimed, “the first I heard about this was in today’s media.”

It is certainly possible that elected officials in Canberra were kept in the dark about the CIA’s proposals. Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was unaware of the very existence of Five Eyes until 1973, 17 years after his country became a signatory to the network’s underpinning UKUSA agreement, following police raids on the offices of domestic spying agency the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, due to its withholding of information from the government.

Whether or not Turnbull was aware of the operation, DFAT’s response when a member of Julian’s family contacted the Department demanding Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne ask the Biden administration to drop the charges against him, and seeking comment on the Yahoo article, was disturbingly flippant.

“Just because it’s written in a newspaper doesn’t mean it’s true…the CIA has been accused of a lot of things, including faking the Moon landing,” a DFAT official quipped in a classic non-denial denial.

These crude remarks were recorded in a letter sent to Payne by John Shipton, Julian’s father. The missive is just one of many documents provided exclusively to Grayzone by Kellie Tranter, Julian’s legal authority in Australia.

For years, Tranter has filed freedom of information requests with the Australian government in a campaign to uncover its true position on Julian, and to what extent its intimate alliance with Washington has limited its ability or willingness to push for his freedom.

The documents acquired by Tranter expose Canberra as anything but an advocate for Assange, the Australian citizen. Instead, throughout Julian’s time in the Ecuadorian Embassy, and imprisonment at Her Majesty’s Pleasure in Belmarsh high security prison – “Britain’s Gitmo” – the Australian government has been determinedly committed to seeing, hearing, and speaking no evil in his regard, despite possessing clear evidence of his dramatically waning physical and mental health, and the torturous conditions of his confinement.

Assange informs Canberra of US violations of his rights: ‘This action was illegal’

The records of a brief visit by Australian consulate officers to Belmarsh on May 17th 2019, one month after Assange’s dramatic expulsion from the Embassy, are especially illustrative of Canberra’s attitude. Over the course of that meeting, Assange spoke in detail about prison conditions and his 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement.

“He remains in his cell most of the day, with 40 minutes allocated each day for ‘associations’,” the Australian consular officials noted. “He is allowed outside for 30 minutes each day, although he said at times this does not happen,” for reasons unstated. Unable to eat at all “for a long period,” he was now ingesting “small amounts”, collecting meals from the kitchen and returning to his cell.

Permitted just two personal visits each month, plus legal consultations, Assange mentioned his recent meeting with Nils Melzer and two medical experts specialized in examining potential victims of torture and other ill-treatment, and that he had so far been unable to speak to his family.

The WikiLeaks co-founder eschewed work programs “which would afford him the opportunity to get out of his cell more often,” according to the diplomats, on the grounds that he refused to engage in “slave labour” and needed time to prepare his legal case. Prisoners in British jails earn an average of $13 per week for hard, thankless toil on behalf of big business, which in turn profits immensely from their rank exploitation.

While mercifully prescribed antibiotics and codeine by prison doctors for an infected root canal, which can be life-threatening in the event the infection spreads, Assange was still waiting on reading glasses and had yet to see an optometrist. The jailed journalist went on to describe how one senior officer “has it in for me,” showing his visitors a charge sheet indicating that a search of his cell uncovered a razor blade, and he’d failed to tidy it after an inspection.

A third infraction of any sort “would result in exercise privileges being withdrawn,” the document states. Possibly fearing reprisal, Assange asked that officials not raise these matters with prison authorities. Evidently, what might typically be considered an unambiguous indication of suicidal intentions was instead logged as a simple disciplinary matter.

Adding to his psychological toll, Assange reported that he had undergone blood tests, and been advised he was HIV-positive, a shocking diagnosis. However, subsequent examinations confirmed the test result to be a false positive, forcing Assange to wonder if the misdiagnosis was a mere error, or “something else.” It could well have been a grotesquely sick mind game, perhaps alluding to the bogus sexual assault allegations he had faced in Sweden, and intended to drive him toward madness.

Assange also presented the Australian consular officials with a recently-published UK Home Office deportation notice, informing him then-Secretary of State Sajid Javid had determined under the 1971 UK Immigration Act that his presence in the UK “was not conducive to the public interest, and he would be removed from the UK without delay,” with no chance of appealing the decision.

“Mr. Assange expressed concern about surviving the current process and fears he would die if taken to the US. He claimed the US was going through his possessions that had remained at the Ecuadorian Embassy. He said that this action was illegal,” the officers wrote. “He stated that his possessions included two valuable artworks he planned to sell to raise funds for his legal defence, the manuscripts of two books, and legal papers. He expressed concern his legal material would be used against him by the US.”

Assange was correct that sensitive documents were stolen by US authorities. Immediately following his arrest, his attorney Gareth Peirce contacted the Ecuadorian Embassy regarding this privileged material, demanding it be handed over as a matter of urgency. When at last his property was collected, all legal papers were missing save for two volumes of Supreme Court files “and a number of pages of loose correspondence,” making his extradition defense an even greater challenge than it already was.

Over the course of Julian’s initial extradition hearings in early 2020, assistant US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia Gordon Kromberg implausibly pledged a “taint team” would excise material from these files so it would not be used in any resultant trial. Similarly feeble “assurances” of this ilk were offered during the recent appeal proceedings.

Conversely, there has so far been no unconvincing public guarantee against the abuse of any information illicitly obtained by UC Global, a CIA contractor, from its extensive surveillance of the Embassy. The Spanish private security firm went as far as bugging the building’s female bathroom, where the WikiLeaks founder conducted discussions with his lawyers, away from prying ears and eyes – or so he hoped.

Despite his situation, Julian somehow retained a vague shred of optimism about the future in discussions with consular officials, suggesting that the result of Australia’s federal election, which was held the very next day, “may present a window for a new government to do something supportive for his case,” asking that Marise Payne be briefed on developments.

As it was, Scott Morrison’s Liberal National Coalition retained its grip on power – and no alarm was publicly raised about anything learned over the course of the consular visit. Indeed, remaining tight-lipped on Julian’s suffering, no matter how horrendous, was to be a matter of dedicated policy.

Australia’s DFAT denies any role in “progressively severe abuse” of Assange

On May 30th that year, WikiLeaks’ made the shock announcement that Julian had been moved to Belmarsh’s medical ward, expressing “grave concerns” about the state of his health. Almost immediately, DFAT’s Global Watch Office fired off an internal email drawing attention to the post.

The following day, ​​UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment Nils Melzer proclaimed “the collective persecution of Julian Assange must end here and now!” The international legal veteran added that, “in 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution,” he had “never seen a group of democratic states ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonize and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law.”

Next, Melzer fulminated against a “relentless and unrestrained campaign of public mobbing, intimidation and defamation” by the US, UK, Sweden and Ecuador, which had subjected him to “persistent, progressively severe abuse ranging from systematic judicial persecution and arbitrary confinement in the Ecuadorian embassy, to his oppressive isolation, harassment and surveillance inside the embassy.”

In response, Australia’s DFAT issued a statement rejecting any suggestion Canberra was “complicit in psychological torture or has shown a lack of consular support” in Assange’s regard, claiming to be “a staunch defender of human rights and strong advocate for humane treatment in the course of judicial processes,” and expressing confidence that he was “being treated appropriately.”

Due to “privacy considerations” allegedly extended to all consular clients, the Department declined to divulge any further details related to his physical or mental state.

It added that the Australian High Commission in London “previously raised any health concerns identified with Belmarsh prison authorities and these have been addressed,” with further inquiries made following Julian’s move to the health ward.

The documents provided to The Grayzone indicate Canberra did indeed make repeated enquiries to Belmarsh by phone and mail in the wake of Wikileaks’ announcement, all of which went unanswered for six straight days. So why did Australia’s High Commissioner not intervene, and demand immediate clarity on an issue of literal life-and-death urgency?

Whatever the reason for the Australian government’s foot-dragging, a consular file dated August 8th that year records how Shipton wrote to advise that Julian had been readmitted to Belmarsh’s sick bay, and a lawyer was drafting a letter to Marise Payne, requesting DFAT “use its diplomatic sources to seek an independent medical assessment (ie outside the prison).”

Then, 11 days later, Shipton mentioned that Julian’s brother, Gabriel, had recently visited the prison and was distressed by Assange’s “deteriorating condition,” leading him to write letters to both Australian Governor General David Hurley and Morrison raising his fears.

On October 21st, Assange appeared in court for a pre-trial hearing in his extradition case. As was widely reported in the mainstream media, he appeared frail and discombobulated, struggling to recall his own name and date of birth when asked by the judge. When the presiding justice enquired whether he even knew what was happening, Assange responded, “not exactly,” indicating conditions in Belmarsh left him unable to “think properly.”

Courtroom sketch artist portrait of Assange (upper-left) watching his October 21 hearing from prison

“I don’t understand how this is equitable,” the imprisoned journalist stated. “I can’t research anything, I can’t access any of my writing. It’s very difficult where I am.”

Assange’s attorney, Mark Summers, argued that his initial extradition hearing, scheduled for February 2020, should be delayed by three months due to the complexity of the case – “the evidence…would test the limits of most lawyers,” he said, and discussed the immense difficulty of communicating with his client in the jail, given he lacked access to a computer.

The judge denied the request. As a result, Julian would be deprived of “the most basic of access to the bare minimum needs for proper representation” until just weeks prior to the hearing.

Assange attorney warns Australia’s DFAT of “impending crisis”

Three days later, Assange attorney Gareth Peirce wrote to the High Commission, asserting that if consular representatives had attended court, “they will have undoubtedly noted what was clear for everyone present in court to observe” – that his client was “in shockingly poor condition…struggling not only to cope but to articulate what he wishes to articulate.”

Unbelievably, a DFAT report on the proceedings unearthed by Tranter made no mention whatsoever of Julian’s disheveled appearance, or his clearly frayed mental state.

Peirce went on to argue that under the circumstances, it was unsurprising Julian had not authorized prison officials to provide the Australian government with information regarding his medical treatment, which had been “been grossly and unlawfully compromised over some time, including, disturbingly, even whilst he has been in Belmarsh prison, false information on at least one occasion having been provided to the press by very obviously internal sources.”

“We hope that what we are able to say…will be accepted by you as having been based on close observation, including by independent professional clinicians..Every professional warning provided to the prison, including by at least one independent doctor called in by Belmarsh, has been ignored,” she wrote. “We would be pleased to meet with you at any stage if by intervention in what is now an impending crisis [emphasis added], you can contribute to its amelioration and avoidance.”

And so it was that consular officials visited Belmarsh November 1st. In their exchange, Assange criticized false statements made to the media by DFAT which suggested he had rejected offers of their support.

Next, he revealed that a prison doctor was “concerned” about his condition. In fact, Assange said his psychological state was “so bad that his mind was shutting down,” almost permanent isolation making it impossible for him “to think or to prepare his defence.”

He did not even have a pen with which to write, was unable to do any research, could not receive documents during legal visits, and all his mail was read by prison officials before it was given to him.

The next month, Professor Michael Kopelman, emeritus professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, prepared a report on Julian’s psychiatric state based on meetings throughout his first six months in Belmarsh, conversations with his parents, friends, colleagues and Stella Morris, his partner and mother of his two children.


As was revealed in Judge Vanessa Baraitser’s January ruling on the US extradition request, Kopelman diagnosed Julian with a severe recurrent depressive disorder, which was occasionally accompanied by psychotic features such as hallucinations, and frequent suicidal thoughts.

His symptoms furthermore included loss of sleep and weight, impaired concentration, a persistent feeling of being on the verge of tears, and state of acute agitation in which he paced his cell until exhausted, punching his head or banging it against the wall.

Assange commented to Kopelman that he believed his life was not worth living, he thought about suicide “hundreds of times a day,” and had a “constant desire” to self-harm or commit suicide, describing plans to kill himself that the professor considered “highly plausible.”

Calls to The Samaritans, a UK charity helpline providing emotional support to those in emotional distress, struggling to cope, or at risk of suicide, were “virtually” a nightly occurrence, and on occasions when he had not been able to reach them, Assange had slashed his thigh and abdomen to distract from his sense of isolation.

Kopelman concluded that, if Assange was held in solitary confinement in the US for a prolonged period, his mental health would “deteriorate substantially resulting in persistently severe clinical depression and the severe exacerbation of his anxiety disorder, PTSD and suicidal ideas,” not least because various “protective factors” available to him in the UK would be absent Stateside.

“For example, he speaks to his partner by telephone nearly every day and, before lockdown, was visited by her and his children, various friends, his father, and other relatives…[Kopelman] considered there to be an abundance of known risk factors indicating a very high risk of suicide,” Baraitser recorded. “He stated, ‘I am as confident as a psychiatrist ever can be that, if extradition to the US were to become imminent, Mr. Assange will find a way of suiciding.’”

The professor’s reports were fundamental to the extradition order’s rejection – a surprising outcome, given Baraitser previously approved extradition in 96% of cases upon which she has ruled.

Nonetheless, she accepted every other argument and charge put forward by the Department of Justice, in effect criminalizing a great many entirely legitimate journalistic activities, and setting the chilling precedent that citizens of any country can be extradited to the US for alleged breaches of its national laws, therefore implying Washington’s legal jurisdiction is global in scale.

Files on Australia’s DFAT discussions with US Secretary of State redacted in full

In response to the ruling, Australia’s Shadow Attorney General Mark Dreyfus issued a forceful statement, declaring the opposition Labor party believed “this has dragged on for long enough,” particularly given Julian’s “ill-health,” and demanding the Morrison administration “do what it can to draw a line under this matter and encourage the US government to bring this matter to a close.”

Conversely, DFAT published a characteristically laconic, soulless note, stating merely that Australia was “not a party to the case and will continue to respect the ongoing legal process,” and rehashing previous false claims that Julian had rejected multiple offers of consular assistance.

Canberra was simply silent when in June, the Icelandic publication Stundin revealed in detail how a “superseding indictment” levelled against Assange in September 2020, which charged that he and others at WikiLeaks “recruited and agreed with hackers to commit computer intrusions,” was based largely on the admittedly false testimony of fraudster, diagnosed sociopath and convicted pedophile Siggi Thordarson, who had previously embezzled vast sums from WikiLeaks and been recruited by the FBI to undermine its founder from within.

There is good reason to believe the Australian government knew the indictment was coming. In July that year, Foreign Minister Payne met with CIA director Mike Pompeo at an Australia–US Ministerial Consultations convention, “the principal forum for bilateral consultations” between the country and the US.

Tranter submitted freedom of information requests for details of that rendezvous, but the documents she received in return were fully redacted. As were files released to her relating to the Foreign Minister’s summit with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in May 2021.

It was almost certain that Assange was a subject of these meetings. DFAT claims Payne “raised the situation” when she met Blinken again in September, and the minister herself alleges she specifically discussed Australia’s “expectations” regarding Assange’s treatment with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab when he visited Canberra in February 2020. Tranter requested records related to this meeting too, but was told none existed.

Upon Julian’s arrest, Prime Minister Morrison alleged he would receive “the same treatment that any other Australian would get.”

“When Australians travel overseas and then find themselves in difficulties with the law, they face the judicial systems of those countries,” Morrison said. “It doesn’t matter what particular crime it is that they’re alleged to have committed, that’s the way the system works.”

However, an internal email dated April 5th 2019 secured by Tranter from the Australian Attorney General’s office was shot through with contempt for the Wikileaks co-founder. The note asserted, “FYI – Assange might be evicted. Not sure if his lawyers will make any (not very convincing) [emphasis added] arguments about Australia’s responsibilities to him but thought it was worth flagging.”

As usual, Australian officials said nothing in public about Assange’s imminent abduction.

Assange’s treatment, and the total lack of outrage over his incarceration, prison conditions, blatant procedural abuses engaged in by Washington in their relentless pursuit of him, and CIA plans to kidnap and/or murder the WikiLeaks founder, diverges starkly from Australia’s approach to Kylie Moore-Gilbert, an Australian-British academic jailed in Iran for 10 years on questionable charges of espionage in September 2018.

Behind the scenes, Australian diplomats struggled for almost two years to secure her release, eventually brokering a prisoner swap, under which she was traded for three Iranian inmates in Thailand – two of whom were convicted in connection with a 2012 bombing plot in Bangkok. In a statement, Foreign Minister Payne expressed relief that Moore-Gilbert was finally free as a result of “professional and determined work,” noting Canberra had “consistently rejected” the grounds on which she was detained.

Meanwhile, the Australian government has consistently reinforced Washington’s position on Assange. In fact, officials have on occasion gone even further than their US counterparts in publicly condemning him and his actions.

In December 2010, then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard declared WikiLeaks’ release of US diplomatic cables meant Assange was “guilty of illegality,” and that Federal Police were investigating, to offer “advice about potential criminal conduct of the individual involved.” To be fair to Canberra though, elected representatives there may effectively have no choice in the matter.

According to investigative journalist Duncan Campbell, each Five Eyes member theoretically has the right to veto a request for signals intelligence collected on an individual, group or organization collected by another. However, Campbells explained, “when you’re a junior ally like Australia or New Zealand, you never refuse,” even in situations when there are concerns about what ostensible allies may do with that sensitive information.

The documents obtained by Tranter and provided to The Grayzone provide an unobstructed view of the Australian junior ally’s betrayal of one of its citizens to the imperial power that has hunted him for years. As Julian Assange’s rights were violated at every turn, Canberra appears to have been complicit.



Latest updates as we wait for the results of the appeal.

Assange’s extradition was denied in January of this year when District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that ordering his extradition would put him at such high risk of suicide so as to be “oppressive.” The U.S. appealed that ruling to the UK’s High Court on the grounds that, it argued, the judge misapplied evidence as to Assange’s mental health, and the U.S. government can assure the court that Assange wouldn’t be held under the worst and most isolating conditions if sentenced to a U.S. prison.

Julian Assange Extradition Appeal: Day 1

On the second day of Julian Assange’s extradition appeal hearing, the defense laid out its arguments to uphold the District Judge’s ruling which barred Assange’s ruling on medical grounds. The prosecution attempted to undermine a renowned psychiatrist, admitted its prison assurances are “conditional,” and tried to downplay how harsh Assange’s US conditions would be.

Julian Assange Extradition Appeal: Day 2

Listen to Stella Moris, Julian Assange’s partner, interview with the BBC Radio: The CIA has not denied the kidnap/assassination plot against Assange, and in fact Mike Pompeo has called for prosecution of the 30 sources who have come forward with the information. The US congress has even initiated it’s own investigation

Reporters Without Borders director, Christophe Deloire, calls on all journalists to urgently resist Assange extradition “before it’s too late” to stop dire precedent.

RSF’s Director of International Campaigns, Rebecca Vincent,emphasised outside the UK High Court on conclusion of the extradition appeal hearing, the case against WikLeaks publisher Julian Assange is about journalism and press freedom. It’s about all of us. RSF will continue our campaign to #FreeAssange!

Eitor in Chief of WikiLeaks, Kristinn Hrafnsson: “Extraditing Assange would be handing him a death sentence… Make your voice heard, put pressure on the media and to politicians everywhere. Julian Assange cannot be extradited.”

Clare Daly, Member of the European Parliament:
“The criminals walk free, and Julian Assange is persecuted, that is the crime. This is a political persecution.”

Lauri Love also spoke outside the High Court: “The real reason Julian should not be extradited to the United States is because he helped enable and facilitate the publication of journalistic evidence of war crimes.”

The appeal proceedings then adjourned, at 4:30pm London time, with the judges closing that both parties have “given [them] much to think about.” No timeline was given for a decision, but we expect it to take weeks if not months. We’ll report back here as we learn more.



UPDATE: The Belmarsh Tribunal

Dear friends

I have just watched this astonishing tribunal – testimonies for Julian Assange, it is a great document, amazing speakers. The Belmarsh Tribunal  is a citizen tribunal, trying the US government for its crimes from ‘the war on terror’, atrocities in Iraq to torture at Guantánamo Bay to a surveillance program and
arguing for freedom of expression, fundamental human rights, and in particular the freeing of Julian Assange and others who speak truth to power.
Tariq Ali was an original member of the Russell-Sarte War Crimes Tribunal on U.S. involvement in Vietnam and is a speaker in this current  tribunal.
An extraordinary couple of hours spent with eloquent, passionate, informed people, deeply committed to justice and in particular justice for Julian Assange – Snowden always powerful, Stella Moris Assange’s partner compelling to watch, , yes I also noted Richard Burgon MP, and John McDdonnell and Apsana Begum, also British MPs, wonderful was the former Ecuardorian President Rafael Correa, Daniel Ellsberg, Deepa Govindarajan Driver – she was in the courtroom as a kind of overseer of the process – so interesting, Renata Ávila Pinto Guatemalan lawyer on his team, wonderful…yes it’s long but utterly gripping and important. Because it is our freedoms that are being fought for. 
PEN Melbourne


The most senior judge in England and Wales, who let activist Lori Love evade extradition to the U.S. on humanitarian grounds, will join Lord Justice Timothy Holroyde at the U.S. appeal hearing against Julian Assange next week. The full article from Consortium News is available here:


UPDATE: London Rally and speeches

London Assange Rally on Saturday Oct. 22, 2021. It was a large rally and the speeches are well worth listening to and they start at the 55 minute mark of the video. https://youtu.be/qobqjO2K6Jw?t=67


Kidnapping, assassination and a London shoot-out: Inside the CIA’s secret war plans against WikiLeaks

·39 min read
In 2017, as Julian Assange began his fifth year holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London, the CIA plotted to kidnap the WikiLeaks founder, spurring heated debate among Trump administration officials over the legality and practicality of such an operation.

Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration even discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request “sketches” or “options” for how to assassinate him. Discussions over kidnapping or killing Assange occurred “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official. “There seemed to be no boundaries.”

The conversations were part of an unprecedented CIA campaign directed against WikiLeaks and its founder. The agency’s multipronged plans also included extensive spying on WikiLeaks associates, sowing discord among the group’s members, and stealing their electronic devices.

While Assange had been on the radar of U.S. intelligence agencies for years, these plans for an all-out war against him were sparked by WikiLeaks’ ongoing publication of extraordinarily sensitive CIA hacking tools, known collectively as “Vault 7,” which the agency ultimately concluded represented “the largest data loss in CIA history.”

President Trump’s newly installed CIA director, Mike Pompeo, was seeking revenge on WikiLeaks and Assange, who had sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden on rape allegations he denied. Pompeo and other top agency leaders “were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7,” said a former Trump national security official. “They were seeing blood.”

Michael Pompeo, director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), listens during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, May 11, 2017. ( Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo in 2017. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The CIA’s fury at WikiLeaks led Pompeo to publicly describe the group in 2017 as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.” More than just a provocative talking point, the designation opened the door for agency operatives to take far more aggressive actions, treating the organization as it does adversary spy services, former intelligence officials told Yahoo News. Within months, U.S. spies were monitoring the communications and movements of numerous WikiLeaks personnel, including audio and visual surveillance of Assange himself, according to former officials.

This Yahoo News investigation, based on conversations with more than 30 former U.S. officials — eight of whom described details of the CIA’s proposals to abduct Assange — reveals for the first time one of the most contentious intelligence debates of the Trump presidency and exposes new details about the U.S. government’s war on WikiLeaks. It was a campaign spearheaded by Pompeo that bent important legal strictures, potentially jeopardized the Justice Department’s work toward prosecuting Assange, and risked a damaging episode in the United Kingdom, the United States’ closest ally.

The CIA declined to comment. Pompeo did not respond to requests for comment.

“As an American citizen, I find it absolutely outrageous that our government would be contemplating kidnapping or assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because he had published truthful information,” Barry Pollack, Assange’s U.S. lawyer, told Yahoo News.

Assange is now housed in a London prison as the courts there decide on a U.S. request to extradite the WikiLeaks founder on charges of attempting to help former U.S. Army analyst Chelsea Manning break into a classified computer network and conspiring to obtain and publish classified documents in violation of the Espionage Act.

“My hope and expectation is that the U.K. courts will consider this information and it will further bolster its decision not to extradite to the U.S.,” Pollack added.

Read the full article here:

PEN Melbourne committee members were appalled at the response they received (below) from the office of Foreign Minister Marise Payne to the letter they sent urging the Australian Government to protect Julian Assange from the continued torture he endures in a British prison and to help stop his extradition to the USA.
We publish a response by Arnold Zable to call out the callousness of the Australian Government towards Assange.
We also recommend Payne, Morrison and their Government watch this short compilation youtube:
This is why I regard Kafka as the greatest writer of the twentieth century. His stories and novels, especially ‘The trial’, exposed this bureaucratic brutality — how innocent people could be tortured and left in legal limbo, and driven to madness, while the perpetrators camouflaged the crime, and their own consciences, by hiding behind the cold, lifeless language of procedure. Behind this short letter, lies so much real life agony, and it can be applied to all too many contemporary scenarios. Assange is ‘the other.’ He has been ‘othered’ And if he is driven mad, and driven to suicide, or committed to a virtual lifetime in prison, those who have driven him mad, and destroyed his life, will shrug their shoulders and wash their hands of it, and issue statements such as this. I bet the word they will use, if the worst happens, will be ‘regret’. Another one of those weasel words. The horror. The horror.
Here is the response from Minister Payne’s DFAT:
Here is the letter sent to Minister Payne, the Prime Minister and other members of the government:
August 25, 2021
Attention: We urge the Australian Government to protect Julian Assange and stop his extradition to the USA
Prime Minister of Australia
Honorable Scott Morrison
Dear Prime Minister,The Melbourne Centre of PEN International is deeply concerned for the wellbeing of Julian Assange.We are deeply disturbed by your Government’s apparent inaction to protect an Australian citizen who has shown immense courage as a journalist and a publisher.We urge you to utilise all your Government’s diplomatic strength and will with Australia’s strongest allies, the US and the UK, to free Assange from UK’s Belmarsh High Security Prison and to prevent his extradition to the US, before the US appeal to the UK High Court in late October, 2021.PEN Melbourne is a human rights organisation committed to advocating for freedom of expression, and supporting writers who are imprisoned in political contexts of tyranny. As presented in the open letter[1] by Lawyers for Assange to the UK Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson: “There is broad international consensus that political offences should not be the basis of extradition.[2] This is reflected in Art. 3 of the 1957 European Convention on Extradition, Art. 3 ECHR, Art. 3(a) of the UN Model Treaty on Extradition, the Interpol Constitution and every bilateral treaty ratified by the US for over a century”.We are sure that you and your government have been following the changing judicial circumstances of Julian Assange. We reiterate here what has taken place in 2021 and urge your action.On 4 January, 2021 the District Judge of the Westminster Magistrate’s Court ruled against the US request to extradite Assange on medical grounds relating to his poor mental health.  As you are aware the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and medical experts had previously visited Assange in 2019, and his report said the following, ‘’Mr. Assange showed all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture…”.[3] The Westminster Magistrate Judge’s decision earlier this year relied on evidence from Michael Kopelman, a professor of neuropsychiatry at King’s College London, who told the court he believed Assange would take his own life if extradited.The US appealed the January decision to the UK High Court on 11 August, 2021.US Counsel has been granted permission to appeal on five grounds, including a reassessment of the expert evidence used to evaluate Julian Assange’s risk of suicide.The full appeal will be heard at the High Court on 27 and 28 October.We urge you to protect this Australian writer in prison. Up to now you have compromised your duty of care to Mr. Assange whose case sets a dangerous precedent for journalists everywhere.  In this time available we urge you to use your full diplomatic force and relations with Australia’s allies and immediately make a strong representation to the UK government to release Julian Assange from prison. We ask you to work with the US leadership and urge them to drop the appeal to extradite Julian Assange.These actions are the basic measures required to provide protection of Julian Assange’s most fundamental human rights and dignity.Thank youJackie Mansourian and Josephine SciclunaCo-Convenors of Writers in Prison, PEN Melbourne[1] https://www.lawyersforassange.org/en/open-letter.html#_edn9[2] R. Stuart Phillips, ‘The Political Offence Exception and Terrorism: Its Place in the Current Extradition Scheme and Proposal for Its Future’, 15 Dickinson Journal of International Law, (1997) p. 342.[3] United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, ‘UN expert says “collective persecution” of Julian Assange must end now, (31 May 2019)’, available at: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=24665.


JOHN PILGER: A Day in the Death of British Justice

The reputation of British justice now rests on the shoulders of the High Court in the life or death case of Julian Assange.

Extracts of an article by  John Pilger in London
Special to Consortium News, 12 August, 2021

For those who may have forgotten, WikiLeaks, of which Assange is founder and publisher, exposed the secrets and lies that led to the invasion of Iraq, Syria and Yemen, the murderous role of the Pentagon in dozens of countries, the blueprint for the 20-year catastrophe in Afghanistan, the attempts by Washington to overthrow elected governments, such as Venezuela’s, the collusion between nominal political opponents (Bush and Obama) to stifle a torture investigation and the CIA’s Vault 7 campaign that turned your mobile phone, even your TV set, into a spy in your midst.

WikiLeaks released almost a million documents from Russia which allowed Russian citizens to stand up for their rights. It revealed the Australian government had colluded with the U.S. against its own citizen, Assange. It named those Australian politicians who have “informed” for the U.S. It made the connection between the Clinton Foundation and the rise of jihadism in American-armed states in the Gulf.

About Those Who Take Us to War

There is more: WikiLeaks disclosed the U.S. campaign to suppress wages in sweatshop countries like Haiti, India’s campaign of torture in Kashmir, the British government’s secret agreement to shield “U.S. interests” in its official Iraq inquiry and the British Foreign Office’s plan to create a fake “marine protection zone” in the Indian Ocean to cheat the Chagos islanders out of their right of return.

In other words, WikiLeaks has given us real news about those who govern us and take us to war, not the preordained, repetitive spin that fills newspapers and television screens. This is real journalism; and for the crime of real journalism, Assange has spent most of the past decade in one form of incarceration or another, including Belmarsh prison, a horrific place.


If you can unravel the arcane logic of this, you have a better grasp than I who have sat through this case from the beginning. It is clear Kopelman misled nobody. Judge Baraitser – whose hostility to Assange personally was a presence in her court – said that she was not misled; it was not an issue; it did not matter. So why had Lord Chief Justice Holroyde spun the language with its weasel legalise and sent Julian back to his cell and its nightmares? There, he now waits for the High Court’s final decision in October – for Julian Assange, a life or death decision.

In the Land of Magna Carta

And why did Holroyde send Stella from the court trembling with anguish? Why is this case “unusual”? Why did he throw the gang of prosecutor-thugs at the Department of Justice in Washington — who got their big chance under Trump, having been rejected by Obama – a life raft as their rotting, corrupt case against a principled journalist sunk as surely as Titantic?

This does not necessarily mean that in October the full bench of the High Court will order Julian to be extradited. In the upper reaches of the masonry that is the British judiciary there are, I understand, still those who believe in real law and real justice from which the term “British justice” takes its sanctified reputation in the land of the Magna Carta. It now rests on their ermined shoulders whether that history lives on or dies.

To read the full article, follow this link:
Another Consortium News article containing a lot of detail about the US appeal is:

LETTER FROM LONDON: Worrying Turn in Assange Case

The U.S. victory in court on Wednesday makes the prospects for Julian Assange at October’s appeal hearing murky at best, writes Alexander Mercouris.

Ryan Grim: State Dept DODGES Question On Julian Assange, Support Of Free Press

In this Youtube, Ryan Grim breaks down the state department’s hypocritical support of international press freedom while attempting to prosecute Julian Assange.

PEN International urges United Kingdom and USA: Immediately release Julian Assange and drop extradition case

Responding to the news, Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee, said:

‘The charges faced by Julian Assange in the US represent a huge threat to media freedom and investigative journalism everywhere. Our position is clear. Espionage laws should not be used against journalists and publishers for disclosing information of public interest. We once again urge the US authorities to drop the case against Assange and to withdraw their extradition appeal.’

Daniel Gorman, Director of English PEN, said:

‘The UK authorities must uphold their commitment to press freedom and prevent Julian Assange’s extradition to the US. Assange has been held in Belmarsh High Security Prison for over two years. This case has deeply concerning implications for press freedom and as such he should be released as a matter of urgency.’


Free Assange Birthday Rally and March, Sun 3 July, 11am-1pm at the State Library

PEN Melbourne together with Melbourne4Assange, Castlemaine and Surrounds 4Assange, and Dandenong Ranges 4Assange groups are hosting a Rally and March on Julian Assange’s 51st birthday, Sunday 3 July.
The Rally begins at 11am at the State Library and concludes with a March to the British Consulate at 90 Collins St where the PEN Empty Chair honouring imprisoned writers will be dedicated to Julian.

 Guest Speakers

We welcome Senator Janet Rice, Australian Greens Senator for Victoria.

Senator Rice has been an essential outspoken advocate for Julian Assange for a number of years. See her speak on Parliament Lawns alongside Senator Peter Whish-Wilson in 2021.
Both are members of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group. Senator Janet Rice

We welcome Dave Noonan,  National Secretary of the CFMEU.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union’s Dave Noonan, back in December 2010 said: WikiLeaks was ”healthy and Assange should not be persecuted”.

We welcome Sami Shah, PEN Melbourne Ambassador at Large

Sami Shah is a multi talented writer, comedian, performer and broadcaster.
He co-hosted the ABC Radio Melbourne Breakfast program with Jacinta Parsons for two years from 2018.

We welcome Christos Tsiolkas, an award winning novelist, playwright, essayist and screen writer.

Christos is a writer of novels, plays, and screenplays. Amongst numerous awards, he has received

Several of his books have been adapted for film and television.

The Birthday Rally

On the 3rd of July, 2022, our Australian award winning journalist, outstanding publisher, creator of WikiLeaks turns 51 years old. This is his 4th birthday spent locked away in Belmarsh prison, London. His previous 7 birthdays were spent locked away in the Ecuadorian Embassy.
We find some solace in the fact that despite the harsh conditions and spying eyes of the CIA, Julian was still able to find precious love and create a beautiful family while being arbitrarily detained. Despite the cruelty and persecution Julian has suffered, he found happiness in the arms of the love of his life, Stella Moris. That is the strongest form of resistance right there, LOVE.
We gather here to demand an end to his persecution. Not one more birthday should he spend incarcerated. We cannot let them steal his 50’s as well. We cannot allow them to continue keeping this innocent man from his children, from his wife, from his family.
Today we stand together regardless our political sway. We unite to save Julian’s life and bring him home.
See you there.
In Solidarity



Assange Vigil 5pm on Tuesday, May 3 at the British Consulate, 90 Collins Street

Join us in a half hour vigil for Julian Assange outside the British Consulate, 90 Collins Street, Melbourne on World Press Freedom Day, Tuesday 3rd May at 5.00pm.

Petition update

Overwhelming support for Australia’s Julian Assange this Press Freedom Day
Assange supporters in full force this election, with a more than a quarter-of-a-million Australian signatories on a petition delivered to parliament today.
May 2 2022 I Contact: Louise – 0449 774 655 I screenings@ithaka.movie

This World Press Freedom Day, May 3, supporters of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange are out in full force to show candidates in the Australian Federal Election where they stand.
Assange remains imprisoned by the British Government for exposing US war crimes, facing 175 years in a US prison if he is extradited from the UK.
Supporters have funded full page advertisements in all of the mainstream Australian press outlets, demanding that Assange is brought home. “Julian is imprisoned in the UK’s harshest
prison” the advertisements state, emphasising that all of the largest press freedom groups have urged that the Australian is released.

A petition signed by over a quarter of-a-million Australians will be personally delivered to the Chair of the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group by Mr. Assange’s brother, Gabriel Shipton, and Greg Barns SC. The petition is the largest ever to be tabled in both houses of the Australian Parliament and hit 700,000 signatories just one week prior to a UK court issuing Mr
Assange with a formal extradition order to the United States. The petition will be delivered to Independent Member for Clark, Mr. Andrew Wilkie, the Chair of the Assange Parliamentary group
which has 25 members including nine Greens, eight Labor, four independents or crossbench and four from the Coalition: Barnaby Joyce, Bridget Arthur, Jason Falinski and Nationals MP George

Wilkie is quick to point out that Assange is a Walkley Award winning Australian journalist. “His continued imprisonment is an alarming affront to any reasonable notion of justice and
media freedom. The Australian Government’s kowtowing to Washington is equally appalling,” Mr Wilkie said. Polls have consistently shown that the vast majority of Australians support Assange being brought home. Liberal backbenchers Jason Falinski and Bridget Archer have called for diplomatic action to secure Assange’s return to Australia after Barnaby Joyce said it was
unfair the US wanted to extradite him to face prosecution over actions allegedly not committed inside the US.
“It’s a popular concern and parliamentarians recognise that,” said Assange’s father, John Shipton, at a recent screening of Ben Lawrence’s feature documentary ithaka, a documentary released across Australia on April 21 about Assange’s plight. Shipton has worked for years behind the scenes with parliamentarians fighting for his son’s freedom, and he knows that his plight has bi-partisan support. During the Federal Election campaign though, he has noticed that both the LNP and the ALP have taken a united position in which they will not make any specific representation for Assange to the UK Home Secretary.

“Prime Minister, pick up the phone. Bring Julian Assange home. Or the cosy agreement between the Australian Labour Party and the Liberal National Party will surely be brought to
a conclusion by Independent MPs,” says Shipton.
Independent Member for Indi, Ms Helen Haines, has also spoken out in support of Mr Assange saying, “Voters expect us to hold accountable those who commit wrong-doing, not to punish those who expose it, such as Julian Assange,” she said.

Mr Assange’s brother and Producer of ithaka, Gabriel Shipton, said all that stands between Julian coming home or being sent to the USA to face 175 years in prison is UK Home Secretary Priti Patel.
“The Australian government must listen to the quarter-of-a-million Australians who want Julian brought home and pick up the phone. Bring Julian home,” Mr Shipton said.
The petition, which has now been signed by more than a quarter-of-a-million Australians, was started by 57 year-old Brisbane man Mr Phillip Adams. He said the petition is also the largest ever to be submitted to the International Criminal Court, “this means that Australian officials may be called to face allegations in association with Crimes Against Humanity any time now or in years to come.”

The petition, which continues to grow, will be hand delivered by Mr Gabriel Shipton to Mr Andrew Wilkie the Parliament House Gardens (Murray quadrant), Hobart, on Tuesday 3 May at 11.30am. Media are welcome to attend.

All Australians are also encouraged to join the movement to #PickUpThePhone this World Press Freedom Day and contact their candidates to find out where they stand on press freedom and Julian Assange.
Available for interview:
● Mr. John Shipton, Julian Assange’s father
● Mr. Gabriel Shipton, Julian Assange’s brother
● Greg Barns, campaign legal adviser

Find out more:

Take action

Feature Documentary ithaka is in cinemas across Australia and will be aired on the ABC soon.
May 2 2022 I Contact: Louise – 0449 774 655 I screenings@ithaka.movie

NEW – Early Day Motion 1177 Stop Extradition of Julian Assange: Send Emails>All, British,Australians

Phillip Adams

Brisbane, Australia

Apr 26, 2022 — 

British, Australians and Rest of world can act thru these links. UK MP has the chance to speak out against the extradition of Julian Assange by signing this House of Commons motionSend them a message using our form asking them to sign now.

Motion Text
That this House

notes that Julian Assange faces extradition to the USA and a prison sentence of up to 175 years in a super-maximum-security prison for his journalistic work, carried out in the UK;

notes that this includes the exposing of war atrocities and human rights abuses in US-led wars on Afghanistan and Iraq and in Guantanamo Bay;

further notes that Amnesty International has warned that extradition of Julian Assange would have a chilling effect on the right to freedom of expression;

while Reporters Without Borders, the International Federation of Journalists, National Union of Journalists and press freedom groups Article 19, Index and the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom oppose extradition and have warned against the criminalising of journalistic activities;

believes that this case once again highlights how the UK’s extradition treaty with the US is fundamentally asymmetric and unbalanced in favour of the United States;

notes that the Home Secretary will soon have to decide whether to extradite Julian Assange to the USA; and calls on the Home Secretary to reject extradition.

Not in the UK (Citizens of the World)  (Note Australians see below this section) ? See other actions here.

Send an email to your BRITISH MP
—-For Australians see below. Helps You send emails to politicians. 

For Australian Election. Email your candidate for your electoral seat. Both House of Representatives and the Senate are all loaded for your seat. Just enter your Post Code and it all populates for you.

The Westminister Magistrates’ court order to extradite Julian Assange to the US was extremely disappointing. We need strong leaders in the government who will stand against corruption and fight for justice. Australia is going into elections in a couple of weeks and we have an opportunity to bring this issue back on the agenda.

For those of you based in Australia, please click here to email candidates from your electorate and ask them to support the release of Assange

If Australia makes a firm stance and demands the release of Julian Assange, it would create real obstacles for the US and UK to do as they like.

So far, we’ve not seen any real intervention from our government. We need our representatives to fight for the issues we care about. It’s time to tell our political candidates and remind the major parties that Australians want justice for Julian Assange.

Please click here to email your candidates

Thank you for your support

Phillip Adams.



The 11th of April, 2022 completes 3 years of imprisonment and torture for Julian Assange.

Join the call of PEN International and leading journalists, lawyers, academics, and press freedom groups to

FREE Julian Assange NOW.


Dear Members of Parliament, Senators and concerned citizens,

At 11 am on the 11th April, 2022, a delegation from PEN International will visit the British Consulate at 90 Collins Street, Melbourne to present an Open Letter calling for the immediate release of Julian Assange and a halt to the extradition.

  1. We invite you to add your name to the Open Letter as a cosignatory by emailing us at admin@penmelbourne.org with ADD MY NAME in the Subject. Please include any organisation you represent, or your profession.
  2. We invite you to show your support for this delegation by attending with the party of supporters outside the consulate. If you plan on attending, please email us at admin@penmelbourne.org so we can have appropriate management measures in place.


An Open Letter Regarding Mr Julian Assange
4 April 2022

Mr Steph Lysaght
British Consul General
British Consulate General in Melbourne, Australia
17th Floor, 90 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

Dear Mr Lysaght,

PEN Australia’s Melbourne, Sydney and Perth centres are among the 150 PEN International centres around the world dedicated to freedom of expression and the release of unjustly imprisoned writers.
PEN Australia Centres, in conjunction with PEN International, call for the British Government, as an independent democracy, to immediately release Julian Assange and to halt the US case for extradition.

On 14 March 2022 the United Kingdom Supreme Court denied Julian Assange’s request to appeal an earlier decision that permitted his extradition to the United States – which in turn had overturned an earlier ruling by the Westminster Magistrates’ Court that found extradition would endanger Mr Assange’s life. His case now goes before UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, to authorise the extradition.

The overturning of the Magistrates’ Court decision followed an appeal by lawyers representing the US government when they promised that Assange’s wellbeing would not be compromised, and that once convicted he could serve his sentence in Australia. James Lewis, the lead U.S. prosecutor, told the High Court that, ‘The United States have never broken a diplomatic assurance, ever’.

Court documents and diplomatic assurances obtained by Richard Medhurst show this to be untrue. See the detailed evidence including signed documents here. Medhurst cites the case of David Mendoza Herrarte, which is summarised briefly here:

In 2009, David Mendoza Herrarte was extradited from Spain to the United States, on condition he be allowed to serve his sentence in Spain.
Classified documents reveal the diplomatic assurances given by the U.S. Embassy in Madrid and how the U.S.
violated the conditions of his extradition.
Mendoza spent over 6 years in the United States trying to return to Spain. Court documents show how the United States denied his transfer application multiple times.
While in prison, Mendoza sued the United States, and Spain, for failing to uphold the conditions of his extradition and violating his human rights. His case was recently taken up by the United Nations.

Mr Assange is already suffering deteriorating health after years of maltreatment in conditions described as torture by the UN special rapporteur Nils Melzer. The likelihood of him surviving in ADX Florence, a federal super-maximum prison, while also being placed under Special Administrative Measures (SAMs), in extreme isolation, was found by the court judgment earlier last year as grounds for the extradition to be stopped.

It has also been established that the US spied on meetings between Assange and his defence. Is this permitted under British law?

The prosecution of Assange has been described as a political case from the outset. Extradition for political offences has been prohibited by democracies that respect human rights. Britain prides itself for standing for democracy and freedom of expression. We call on Britain to take a stand for the wellbeing and democratic freedom of expression of Wikileaks founder, Australian citizen Julian Assange.

Julian Assange has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, by German politician Martin Sonneborn (MEP). This attests to the international concern for Julian Assange’s case. This nomination reflects not only the esteem in which Assange is held but also the fact that Assange’s extradition to the USA is seen as a blow to media freedom, with far reaching implications for investigative journalism worldwide.

Wikileaks, with Julian Assange as editor, was in 2019 awarded a Walkley Award for its outstanding award to journalism.
The Walkley Foundation website states:
‘Many mainstream journalists worked with Assange’s material to publish their own reports including media outlets such as the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in Australia, The Guardian in the United Kingdom, The New York Times in the US, El Pais in Spain, Le Monde in France and Der Spiegel in Germany. There has been no attempt by the US Government to prosecute any of those journalists involved.

The Government is relying on one allegation against Assange—that he helped Chelsea Manning crack a password to access a US government computer—to seek his extradition from Britain to America where, if successful, he seems likely to face other, more serious charges that would constitute a direct assault on fundamental press freedoms.

Julian Assange’s personality and his more recent actions do not weaken the principle driving the Walkley
Foundation’s concerns in this matter: that when he released the original Wikileaks material in 2010 Assange was assisting a whistleblower to reveal information in the public interest.
Given the potential adverse impact of this extradition attempt on a free, healthily functioning media, the Walkley Foundation Board urges the British and Australian governments to oppose Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States.’

In Australia, a petition, tabled in Parliament, is still growing strongly with over 692,600 signatures and is now the fourth largest petition to be tabled in parliament.

The Hon Barnaby Joyce, Deputy Prime Minister of Australia, is an outspoken advocate for bringing Julian Assange home.

Senators and Members of Parliament from all parties, together with human rights organisations, notable Australians, and the general public have made this same call: release Julian Assange immediately and halt the extradition.

I look forward to your urgent action for Mr Assange.

Yours sincerely

Christine McKenzie, president
PEN Melbourne

Gabriel Shipton
Senator Nick McKim
Rebekha Sharkie, MP
Senator Janet Rice
Senator Whish-Wilson
Sami Shah, PEN Melbourne
Constantine Pakavakis, PEN Melbourne
Dr Josephine Scicluna, PEN Melbourne
Jackie Mansourian, PEN Melbourne
Adele Duffy, PEN Melbourne
Dr Paul Morgan, PEN Melbourne
Krishna Sen, PEN Perth
Zoe Rodriguez, PEN Sydney
Claudia Taranto, PEN Sydney
Mansour Razaghi, PEN Sydney
Dennis Altman AM FASSA
Professor David McCooey
Associate Professor Marion May Campbell
Hilary McPhee AO
Dr Judith Buckrich
Lolo Houbein AM
Dr Diana Cousens
Susan Connelly, Alliance Against Political Prosecutions
Hannah Thomas, Alliance Against Political Prosecutions
Malcolm Ramage, QC
Dr Anne Noonan
Dr Sue Wareham OAM, Medical Association for Prevention of War (Australia)
Jan Barnett rsj
Janet Howie
Kerry O’Rourke
Prue Gill
Stuart Roberts
Noel Turnbull
Bala Mudaly
Jodi Gallagher
Joan Healy
Sam Elkin
Judith Morrison
Ron Savage
Andy Blunden
Dmetri Kakmi
Jane Trikojus
Toni Jordan
Rebecca Payne
Kevin Bracken, Chairperson ILPS Australia
Dr Richie Gun AO
Patsy Asch
Heather Robinson
Cynthia Burton
Bea Bleile
Deborah Locke
Dr Margaret Beavis
George Krooglik
Stacey Higgins
Nick Deane
Julie Wilson
Dr Janet Hunt
Cynthia Kardell
Maurice Wilkinson
Wendy Eyre
Tom Hayes
Chris Wade-Evans
Rachael Weiss
Jason Fairclough


PEN Sydney delivered this letter to the office of Marise Payne

Bring Julian Assange Home-An open letter to Foreign Minister Marise Payne

On the 5th April, John Shipton (Julian Assange’s Dad) issued this statement via Change.org:

Dear Friends, I have just returned from London where I witnessed Stella and Julian somehow transcend the nightmarish conditions of HMP Belmarsh to celebrate their love for one another and our love for them.

Time is running out for Julian, his physical condition is shocking. Years of psychological torture and arbitrary detention demand their bitter toll. He has been denied his final appeal and is now awaiting a US extradition order expected to be handed down on 20 April.

On this third anniversary of the incarceration of Julian Assange we will deliver this open letter to Foreign Minister Sen. Marise Payne.

Dear Minister Payne,

PEN Australia’s Melbourne, Sydney and Perth centres are among the 150 PEN International centres around the world dedicated to freedom of expression and the release of unjustly imprisoned writers.

PEN Australia, in conjunction with PEN International, are calling for justice for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, on this third anniversary of his detention in Belmarsh Prison.  We are appealing to you as a representative of the Australian people to assert the rights of an Australian citizen by taking up his case with your counterparts in the United Kingdom government.  It is the responsibility of Australian government representatives to advocate for Australian citizens.

The decision to extradite him to the United States for trial currently sits with UK Home Secretary Priti Patel. This was after the UK Supreme Court in March refused to consider Mr Assange’s appeal against the High Court decision, which overturned the District Court ruling barring his extradition to the US on mental health grounds. We urge you to use the considerable diplomatic influence you undoubtedly have to strongly request of Secretary Patel that the request for his extradition to the US be rejected immediately and that he be brought home to Australia.

In the US, Mr Assange would face trial on 17 counts under the Espionage Act and one count under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which combined could see him imprisoned for up to 175 years. He is highly likely to be detained there in conditions of isolation or solitary confinement, despite the US government’s assurances, which would severely exacerbate his risk of suicide.

Further, Mr Assange would be unable to adequately defend himself in the US courts, as the Espionage Act lacks a public interest defence. His prosecution would set a dangerous precedent that could be applied to any media outlet that published stories based on leaked information, or indeed any journalist, publisher or source anywhere in the world.

Julian Assange has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, by German politician Martin Sonneborn (MEP). This nomination reflects not only the esteem in which Assange is held but also the fact that his extradition to the US is seen as a blow to media freedom, with far reaching implications for investigative journalism worldwide.

Aside from these significant concerns, the health and welfare, perhaps the life of an Australian citizen is at stake. The harmful and detrimental conditions under which Julian Assange is currently detained in Belmarsh prison have been described as torture by the UN special rapporteur Nils Melzer.

Currently in Australia 28 of the 226 Senators and Members of Parliament support actions to bring Julian Assange home, including the Deputy Prime Minister, The Hon Barnaby Joyce.  A petition, tabled in Parliament, is still growing strongly with over 700,000 signatures.  It is now one of the largest petitions to ever be tabled.

We look forward to your urgent action for Mr Assange.

Yours Sincerely,

Zoe Rodriguez – PEN Sydney Joint President

Carol Dettmann OAM – Publisher

Linda Jaivin – Writer

Anwen Crawford – Writer

Evelyn Juers – Writer

Christos Tsiolkas – Writer

Lisa Walker – Writer

Miro Bilbrough – Writer/Filmmaker

Stephen Edgar – Poet

Judith Beveridge – Poet

Mireille Juchau – Writer and academic

Nicholas Jose – Writer

Debra Adelaide – Writer

Sandy Symons – PEN Sydney Joint President

Daniel Rowland – Academic

Mark Isaacs – Writer

Dragana Zivancevic – Translator

Nina Burridge – Academic

Claudia Taranto – journalist

Mansour Razaghi – journalist

Nicole Steinke – podcast producer

Chris McKenzie – President PEN Melbourne

Con Pakavakis – PEN Melbourne

Krishna Sen – PEN Perth


In Canberra, Kathryn Kelly of the Alliance Against Political Prosecutions delivered the PEN letter to the British High Commission.

Feb 18, 2021 — 

“New: The Court has now granted Julian’s team an extension until March 29th to reply to the US appeal grounds/cross-appeal. The High Court will decide whether it will allow the US permission to appeal after March 29th. More below. Please share+support.”: Source Stella Moris 

Also Senator Peter Whish-Wilson in the Senate this week. He is the Senator that tabled the petition of Phillip Adams in the Australian Parliament. https://youtu.be/8xJLmPXEo1U

A coalition of 25 major human rights and press freedom groups have signed a letter asking Biden’s Department of Justice to drop the indictment against Julian Assange. The letter initiated by Freedom of the Press Foundation was signed by leading rights groups including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the American Civil Liberties Union, Committee to Protect Journalists and PEN America.

Feb 17, 2021 — 

Julian Assange’s High Court fight against extradition Crowd Justice campaign

Julian Assange’s partner Stella Moris has sent out an important update about the extradition case on Crowd Justice fundraising appeal. The update came after the US prosecution submitted their arguments to court last Friday, to appeal a UK magistrates court ruling from January 4, that it was unsafe to extradite Julian because to do so would likely result in his death.
“The next step in the legal case is that Julian’s legal team will respond to the US grounds for appeal. Julian’s lawyers are hard at work. Julian’s team has asked the High Court to give them more time to consider whether to lodge a cross appeal in order to challenge parts of the ruling where the magistrate did not side with Julian and the press freedom arguments. A cross appeal would provide an opportunity to clear Julian’s name properly.”

Julian Assange remains on remand in the high security Belmarsh Prison where he has been for over 500 days. The most pressing problem for Julian is that conditions in detention continue to obstruct his ability to prepare his legal case, a case on which his life depends.

Please keep sharing this fundraising appeal with friends, family, colleagues and anyone else who might be able to donate.
Thank you for your ongoing support.



Assange: Latest Court Date Reaction

After Monday’s unexpected ruling against the extradition of Julian Assange on medical grounds, two days later the same lower courtjudge denied a request for bail.

Speaking outside the court Stella Moris, partner and mother of Assange’s two young children said: “Julian should not be in Belmarsh prison in the first place. I urge the President of the United States to pardon Julian.”

WikiLeaks’ Editor-in-Chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said: “We think it is unjust, unfair and illogical – when you consider her ruling two days ago about Julian’s health which of course is caused, in large part, because he is being held in Belmarsh prison. To send him back there doesn’t make any sense.”

Rebecca Vincent from Reporters Without Borders who has been monitoring Julian Assange’s extradition proceedings said: “Reporters Without Borders condemns this decision taken today which we view as unnecessarily cruel. We fully believe that Julian Assange was targeted for his contributions to journalism. He shouldn’t have to spend another moment unjustly deprived of his liberty.”

Amnesty International said that the “decision to refuse the bail application renders Assange’s ongoing detention arbitrary, and compounds the fact that he has endured punishing conditions in high security detention at Belmarsh prison for more than a year.”

After the judge’s extradition ruling on Monday a Guardian editorial declared‘Relief, not victory’. “A judge has rightly rejected the US request, but only on mental health grounds. The case should be dropped.” Not only is Julian still languishing in HMP Belmarsh despite a ruling that he should be freed, but Judge Baraitser accepted the U.S. government’s repressive argumentscriminalizing journalism.

The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights said “Considerations of press freedom and potential ill-treatment should prevent his extradition. Hope this brings proceedings to a swift end”

All major human rights organizations voiced their support for the decision to block the extradition to the United States including: Reporters Without Borders, Amnesty International, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Committee to Protect Journalists, National Union of Journalists, Australian Union of Journalists (MEAA), Article19, Freedom of the Press Foundation, International Press Institute – as well as politicians and commentators from all sides of the political spectrum.


For further reading:



Yanis Varoufakis to testify against private company hired to spy on Assange

By DiEM25 Communications | 27/10/2020

The fight for justice for Julian Assange takes place in the Greek courts today, where Yanis Varoufakis will testify against the private company that was hired to spy on Assange while he resided in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

On Tuesday 27 October at 13h local time, DiEM25 co-founder Yanis Varoufakis will testify to the Special Investigations Unit for International Judicial Assistance as a witness for the prosecution, through a teleconference hosted in Greek courts. He will support a Spanish case against the private company UC Global, which was spying on Julian Assange during his stay in the Embassy of Ecuador in London.

The company in question had a contract with US authorities and is being investigated for potential violations of rights of Yanis Varoufakis and other visitors of Julian Assange.

More specifically, the investigation is focusing on the illegal video and sound recording of private conversations between Varoufakis and Assange that were secretly obtained by the security agency. It also pertains to the illegal collection of copies of Varoufakis’ passport, as well as the contents of his mobile — all of which was transmitted from UC Global to its “customer” across the Atlantic, i.e. the US government.

It is of critical importance that this case against those who have hunted Julian Assange for years is conducted by a European Justice authority. All the while, Julian is slowly dying in inhumane isolation in the British equivalent of Guantanamo: the high security HM Prison Belmarsh. And for what crime? For informing citizens in the West of the crimes conducted by their governments, in their name.

The co-founder of DiEM25 and Secretary of MeRA25, Yanis Varoufakis, will give his testimony to the Spanish authorities voluntarily via teleconference, thus contributing to the years of struggle conducted by DiEM25, MeRA25 and the Progressive International to support, and eventually free, Assange. It is to this struggle that we call you all to join your voices and help us free Julian Assange.

To see the videos of Varoufakis: https://diem25.org/yanis-varoufakis-testify-against-private-company-hired-spy-assange/


From Phillip Adams, Brisbane re The Petition:


Australian Foreign Minister spoke to Dominic Raab & Pompeo about Assange.

“Australia’s Foreign Minister Marise Payne says she has spoken with Dominic Raab (UK) and Secretary Mike Pompeo (USA) about Julian Assange’s extradition”.Thankyou to Brett Mason SBS News for Tweeting the detail. https://twitter.com/BrettMasonNews/status/1321246876109164544?s=20


Note; In response to the Foreign Minister: This petition never demanded consular contact. In relation to this politically motivated show trial for torture and eternal silencing of Julian Assange, consular contact has been a designated administrative dead end to jerk us along. This petition demands direct involvement by the Foreign Minister and or the Prime Minister of Australia to free Julian Assange by direct ministerial demands with their counterparts in the UK and USA. Now we know that is happening, we can now confirm we are getting somewhere.

This petition will continue to address this travesty and alleged Crime Against Humanity in the International Criminal Court. As stated in Notice 1 to the International Criminal Court Aug. 8, 2020: This petition requests Public Officers of Australia, UK, Sweden and Ecuador be investigated for their co-ordinated delivery of psychological torture to Julian Assange.

For the record previous Australian Consular Contact and followups will be included in the investigation request in Petition Notice 3 to the International Criminal Court. Now with the passage of time we can see that the process of countless waste of time consular contacts appear to have been nothing more than just another smoke screened cog to ensure Julian Assange the journalist is delivered to the entity that committed the war crimes he exposed. Where is the public outrage by the Foreign Minister and Prime Minister about the plan to poison an Australia Citizen Mr Assange in an Embassy, where is the outrage over the plan to kidnap him. Where is the outrage towards the establishment of a legal precedent that will destroy Australian, British and Western sovereignty.

  • We will Free Julian Assange,
  • There will be no extradition
  • We will see public officers of Australia, Ecuador, Sweden and the UK being the subject of an investigation by the International Criminal Court into their involvement in the psychological torturing of Julian Assange which is a crime against humanity.
  • We are a massive platform now and we will not be denied.


Assange: Independent international legal observers write Open Letter to British PM

An Open Letter was written to the UK Prime Minister, Mr Boris Johnson, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland QC, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Dominic Raab and UK Home Secretary Priti Patel


A poem by Olga Bragina, a Kyiv poet currently safe in Poland.

To keep up with PEN International updates on Ukraine, click on the link below.


A poem by Olga Bragina, a Kyiv poet currently safe in Poland.


I don’t see why you must remember 1980s Kyiv

Olga Bragina


I don’t see why you must remember 1980s Kyiv

the white walls the sterile windows of the churches

the empty silence the lines of white bandages and fresh asphalt

still hot scorching underdone bitumen

why you must remember the waterless fizzy water vending machine those white celandine meringues

you’ll be forever stuck leafing through old photos here’s one of you just before your birthday

sneaking past the heroes of the revolution past the warm columns of autocracy the symbols of homeland

I don’t see why you must remember Kyiv now no one lives to love the dead or tear apart notebooks

and the cloudy Podol oil Annushka spilled

I don’t see why you must remember who lived in the house that was Emperor Nikolаi’s favourite colour

those who told tales to the caretaker and to childhood friends

they didn’t recognise or remember you after all these years

here a democratic life passes under local anaesthetic

something with no name other than why must you remember 1980s Kyiv divided into before and after

folded pages in the spine of Duke Berry’s Book of Hours

love is restless and unkind it doesn’t end or begin only the burning asphalt

the shortages of potato peelings acorns and tap water

shortages of bath salts cheerful people in the metro

I don’t see why you must remember


Edited by Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya

Translated by Mark Wingrave


Olga Bragina is a Ukrainian poet and translator. She has published five books, and her work has appeared in numerous literary journals.


Tatiana Bonch-Osmolovskaya is a widely-published writer and translator. Originally from Moscow and now living in Sydney, she is a Board member of Moscow PEN.


Mark Wingrave is a member of PEN Melbourne. An artist and translator, he has has exhibited internationally and his translations from Russian to English have been widely published. See his website at mcwingrave.wordpress.com.




зачем тебе помнить Киев восьмидесятых


Ольга Брагина


зачем тебе помнить Киев восьмидесятых

белые стены церквей стерильно чистые окна

пустота молчание белый цвет бинтов первая свежесть асфальта

горячего асфальта среднепрожаренного битума

зачем тебе помнить где эта газировка без воды пирожные безе чистотела

ты застрянешь здесь навсегда будешь перебирать старые фото вот ты до рождения

пробираешься мимо героев революции теплых столпов самодержавия родимых осин

зачем тебе помнить Киев не любят мертвых не рвут тетради

мутную взвесь подольского масла Аннушка разлила

зачем тебе помнить кто жил в этом доме любимого цвета императора Николая

рассказывал сказки дворникам рассказывал сказки друзьям

детства не признавшим через столько лет никто не помнит тебя

здесь проходит демаркационная линия жизнь под местным наркозом

то чему нет названия но зачем тебе помнить Киев восьмидесятых разделять на до и после

часослов герцога Беррийского загибать страницы стачивать корешки

любовь не лжет не милосердствует не заканчивается не начинается только горячий асфальт

дефицит желудей картофельных очистков воды из крана

морской соли для ванн счастливых людей в метро

зачем тебе помнить



Ukrainian writer Volodymyr Vakulenko and his son Vitalii were detained and taken to an unknown destination by Russian occupiers in Kharkiv region. They have been out of touch since March 7.

Vakulenko’s ex-wife, Iryna Novitska, informed about this on her Facebook page on April 10.

“Something that I have been suspecting since the end of March, was confirmed yesterday. My ex-husband Volodymyr Vakulenko, an author and volunteer from Izium, was denounced and then detained together with our son Vitalii by either Russian soldiers or representatives of the occupational administration. Their fate remains unknown”, Novitska wrote.

Vakulenko lives in the village of Kapytolivka near Izium. The local police are investigating his abduction.

“Our investigation indicates that by the end of March 2022, a well-known Ukrainian writer who for a long time has been implementing volunteering activity, was illegally abducted by Russian occupiers in the village of Kapytolivka. His location is still unknown. The village of Kapytolivka remains under the occupational control of Russian troops. The locality is out of connection now”, Kharkiv regional prosecutor’s office states.

In the opinion of Iryna Novitska, the occupiers took interest in her ex-husband because of his patriotic attitude and participation in the war in Donbas. Her claim is that Vakulenko has been denounced by some local residents. Volodymyr Vakulenko is known for his civic activity. During the Revolution of Dignity Volodymyr was wounded in the Marrinskyi Park in Kyiv while fighting against a titushky gang. He has been volunteering for the Ukrainian army since 2015.

Volodymyr Vakulenko was born on July 1, 1972 in Kharkiv region. He is an author of 13 books, among which there are “Monoliteracy” (2008) “You Are… Not” (2011), “The Sun’s Family” (2011), “We, the Province!” (2013). His pen name is Volodymyr Vakulenko-K. His own genre, which contains elements of postmodernism, modernism, neo-classicism, and logical absurdism, Volodymyr defines as “contrliterature”. Vakulenko is a winner of several Ukrainian and international literary prizes. His works have been translated into English, German, Belarussian, Crimean Tatar, and Esperanto languages.

Poetry Mesa
Three Centuries of Ukrainian Poetry: 
From Kobzars to Rock Stars
Readings & Conversation on Zoom ~ A Fundraiser 
Monday, 25 April     5:00 PM CDT   Register at:
Benefit for World Central Kitchen’sWork For Ukrainian Refugees
3 extraordinary contemporary poets: Iryna Shuvalova, Halyna Kruk, Iryna Starovoyt
 & Ukrainian Literary Scholar, Vitaly Chernetsky, 
readings of the magnificent poetry of Ukraine’s past: 
Taras Shevchenko, Lesya Ukrainka, Vasyl Stus, Bohdan-Ihor Antonych & Serhii Zhadan, 
plus their own GORGEOUS work
interlaced with lively conversation weaving poetry 
into literary, cultural & historical context
 This Event is Free ~ Please donate Generously!
 100% of the money we raise will be sent to Chef José Andrés’ World Central Kitchen
Thank you to Our Supporters & Friends: 
 Colorado Poets Center, San Miguel PEN Centre, San Miguel Poetry Café,
New Mexico Literary Arts, Stephen Komarnyckyj, PEN Turkey, The Poetry School 
& Lost Horse Press
~ Slava Ukraini! ~


The letter below was received from Subhash Jaireth in both English and Russian:

Dear Chris,

Another alarming news: Novaya Gazeta announced on its website yesterday (28 March 2022) that it is spending publication. Just wondering if you could bring this the notice of PEN Members.

Here is the text of the announcement is Russian and English (my translation)

With best wishes,


Мы получили еще одно предупреждение Роскомнадзора.

После этого мы приостанавливаем выпуск газеты на сайте, в сетях и на бумаге — до окончания «специальной операции на территории Украины».


С уважением, редакция «Новой газеты»


We have received another warning from Roskomnadzor (The Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media).

As a result, we have decided to suspend publication of the newspaper—on our website, on social network sites, and on paper—until the end of the “Special Operation on the Territory of Ukraine.”


Sincerely, Editors of “Novaya Gazeta”



Subhash Jaireth
45 Noala Street, Aranda
ACT 2614, Australia


PEN Melbourne’s good friend, Maria Tumarkin, has made a personal plea to support the people of Ukraine. You’ll read in her letter that Maria wa born and raised in Kharkiv, a city that is under brutal attack. Maria has been following along with her friends as they make their way to safety. It has been a harrowing time for so many in Ukraine and their families and friends here in Australia. There is much we can do to support. Calls for an end to war are necessary, however financial donations will assist those who now struggle to survive each day.  Please circulate this widely.

Maria Tumarkin is an awarded Australian cultural historian, essayist, and novelist.

Dear Con

I am a Ukrainian–Jewish–Australian writer born and raised in Kharkiv. Increasingly my city is being compared to Aleppo in Syria.

My childhood friend’s son, Yurii, made a video in English about Kharkiv’s destruction (note, this is highly distressing, please take care when watching). At the end of this video, Yurii pleads for everyone to sign the petition to close the sky over Ukraine. This is what all people in Ukraine, including the country’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, have been saying for days now. Don’t wait till something beyond unconscionable happens, do it now. Whatever you fear most is happening already. The fight for Ukraine – this is not, even for a second, hyperbole – is a fight for the world. That is what they’re saying.

Yurii’s mum Olha is a psychologist. She’s been working for Proliska, a Ukrainian humanitarian mission active since 2014 and specialising in humanitarian support for and evacuation of civilians, especially those in state institutions such as hospitals and orphanages. They operate under the auspices of UNHCR and are effective and fearless. Proliska means snowdrop. For those who wish to donate to Proliska, I’ll update information on donating from Australia on www.mariabooks4ukraine.com once I have everything confirmed and verified.

Olha and I studied psychology together in the first ever psychology class in Kharkiv in the late 1980s. When I find her on Facebook and ask if I can help her family, she replies, ‘We are fine, we’re in Uzhhorod, setting up and getting to work. No plans to leave.’ Uzhhorod is in Ukraine’s west. On our screens millions (by now) are crossing the border from Lviv into Poland, but there’s also an exodus to the west of the country where people are trying to find a degree of safety, for now. As I write this a friend calls to say that in Ivano-Frankivsk, also in the country’s west, where her friends run a volunteer network, every house is crammed with people. Her friend is sheltering nine in her house alongside her family. The west of Ukraine is ‘full’.

‘No plans to leave’ is what I hear from friends and friends of friends. All generations. The ‘choices’ my compatriots face are catastrophic. To leave their sons, husbands and fathers behind in order to take their children to hoped-for safety. To leave behind their sick and elderly relatives who wouldn’t survive the arduous journey. To leave their beloved, butchered, heroic motherland so as to be able to come back and rebuild it.

What can we do?
First, give money if it’s possible for you (I know it’s not possible for many after 2+ years of COVID). I’m raising money by giving away my two most recent books, Axiomatic and Otherland. The info is here: mariabooks4ukraine.com.

My books are what I have to give. They are not special. In Otherland are chapters on WWII, Russia and Ukraine though of course they were written in 2010 when this war was unfathomable. In Axiomatic the last chapter is essentially a conversation between me and my dear friend Alexandra who has just escaped from Kharkiv travelling for three days through what she described as Dante’s circles of hell. There are many charities you may want to donate to beyond the one mentioned on my site. You might be compelled to send money to support the Ukrainian army. I will send you my books regardless of how you direct your donation.

I’m not pushing anything. So many books and essays and blogs are out there you can read. This one for instance from Ukrainian writer, Yevgenia Belorusets.

There’s another petition I’d like to mention. This one urges the Australian government to grant special visas for refugees from Ukraine.

What can we do?
Quadruple our efforts to shift the Australian government’s stance on accepting and resettling refugees. Not only Ukrainian refugees, and not only future refugees – those who are here now, in offshore and onshore detention. We have one of the greatest chroniclers, poets and philosophers of the modern refugee experience in Behrouz Boochani. While PEN has been tireless in its advocacy for Behrouz and others, and while Australia’s given Behrouz Boochani its top literary prizes, he’s living in New Zealand because in Australia anti-refugee and anti-immigrant policies continue to win elections.

I hope one day to write to you again telling you about literature in and about Ukraine, but not now.

Now is the time for direct action.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading and for your support.

Maria Tumarkin

Subhash Jaireth, writer and PEN Melbourne member, spent nine years in Russia studying geology and Russian literature between 1969 and 1978. Subhash has written to  PEN Melbourne:

I found a letter written by Ivan Vyrypaev, a contemporary Russian playwright and director.

The letter was published on his website in English. In the letter he calls Putin’s War barbaric and wants royalties from the ticket sales to go to Ukraine Aid Fund.

Below is the link to the independent news website Meduza where the letter was published in Russian and the link to an English translation of Vyrypaev’s own website.


This is to let people know that in Russia people are protesting in different ways and this is where people like me see some hope.




English text of Ivan Vyrypaev’s letter:

Since your theatre is financed by the Ministry of the Russian Federation or the city department of culture of your city, that is, the state that is waging a criminal war now with the Ukrainian people, killing the citizens of this country, destroying the infrastructure of cities and villages, I have made a decision, and I want to inform you that all the money which I will receive from your theatre, I will transfer to the relief funds for Ukraine, of course (and I want to emphasize this) this money will go only for peaceful purposes, and in no case, not for military purposes.

Our money will go to help Ukrainian refugees, children and mothers, to everyone who needs this help now. I am glad that in this way the money from the budget of culture of the Russian Federation will be fairly given to those who suffered and are suffering from the barbaric attack of Russia.

I will try to inform you in detail for what specific purposes the money we earned together was sent.

Spectators who buy tickets for my plays should know that by buying a ticket for the performance based on my play, they also make their own contribution in helping the tragically affected Ukrainians and at least to some extent (of course, to an incredibly small) compensate the monstrous damage that Russia inflicts on Ukraine.

Especially, I am happy to announce my plan to the theatres of the Tovstonogov Bolshoi Drama Theatre, the Theatre of Nations and the Moscow Art Theatre, because the royalties from these theatres are much larger than all other theatres together.

So, together with you, we are already starting to do what someday (I am absolutely sure of this) the entire Russian people will do. This letter will published in the media space, on social networks, and on my website, so that our action to help Ukrainians will be followed both in Russia and abroad.

Thank you for being together.

Playwright Ivan Vyrypaev

PEN Ukraine:

PEN Ukraine appeals to international PEN centers and fellow writers, journalists and intellectuals.
On this page, we tell about current situation in Ukraine and share official sources, media and accounts on Twitter, whose information can be trusted. You can follow the updates on sources that we recommend. Now, it’s important to tell the truth about the Russia’s war against Ukraine and appeal for support of parliaments and governments in the world.


World Press Freedom Day 2022: Take Action for Ismail al-Iskandrani

World Press Freedom Day 2022: Take Action for Ismail al-Iskandrani

May 3: Today, on World Press Freedom Day 2022, PEN International features the case of investigative journalist Ismail al-Iskandrani, detained by the Egyptian authorities for exercising his right to freedom of expression through his work.

“No crisis, be it political, cultural, social or economic, can truly be addressed without an independent and free press. Freedom to criticise governments, administrations and institutions is necessary for the advancement of the world towards a more highly organised order. Here at PEN, we stand for a free press and oppose arbitrary censorship in any form. Journalists should not be punished for seeking to unveil the truth”. Burhan Sonmez, President, PEN International

Established by the UN General Assembly in 1993, following a recommendation adopted at the 26th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in 1991, World Press Freedom Day is a day to reflect on the importance to inform citizens of the violations of press freedom, support media professionals who are targeted in the pursuit of a story, honour journalists who lost their lives because of their profession, and call on governments to respect their commitment to press freedom.

Please take action on behalf of Ismail al-Iskandrani (Egypt)


Ismail al-Iskandrani

Ismail al-Iskandrani is an award-winning writer, investigative journalist and socio-political researcher. He worked with several research centres, including the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights and the Arab Reform Initiative, and is best known for his research and writings on militant groups operating in Egypt’s Sinai Pensinsula.

Al-Iskandrani was arrested on 29 November 2015 at Hurghada Airport upon his return from Berlin, Germany. Authorities seized his laptop, mobile phone and personal belongings, and later presented them as evidence against him. He was held in arbitrary pre-trial detention for over two years before being referred to a military court under the pretext of revealing military secrets.

In May 2018, al-Iskandrani was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment for ‘leaking military secrets’ and ‘membership of a terrorist group’. On 24 December 2018, an Egyptian military court upheld the 10 year prison sentence against him. He is currently held at the Mazraa (The Farm) prison in Tora prison complex, where he is reportedly denied access to in-person visits with his family, as well as access to reading and writing materials.

PEN believes that al-Iskandrani’s detention and conviction are linked to his work, which challenges the government’s narrative on its counter-terrorism operations in the Sinai Peninsula. Al-Iskandrani’s writings offer a thorough analysis of the situation in Sinai, including the complex socio-economic interests of civilians and military in the region, and of the political mobilization  that took place in Egypt during the Arab Spring in 2011. His work has been published in various regional and international media, as well as academic journals, including the independent Lebanese newspapers al-Safir and al-Modon, and the American Arab Studies Journal, Jadaliyya.

In 2015 al-Iskandrani was awarded the Visiting Arab Journalist Fellowship, Middle East Program, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In 2014, he  won the Open Eye – Hany Darweesh Award for Exceptional Essay. In 2009, he was one of the winners of the Global Winner in Youth Essay Contest on Democracy  (World Youth Movement for Democracy), and the winner of the National Contest for Spreading Understanding and Mutual Respect, at the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

Take Action

PEN International calls on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Ismail al-Iskandrani and drop all charges against him. PEN International demands that the Egyptian authorities ensure al-Iskandrani’s access to reading and writing materials, as well as adequate contact with his family, pending his release.

PEN International also urges the Egyptian government to respect its international obligations on the right to freedom of expression, and bring the ongoing crackdown on peaceful dissent to an end.

This is what you can do:


  • Send appeals to:

Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi, Office of the President,

Al Ittihadia Palace, Cairo, Arab Republic of Egypt,

Fax: +202 2 391 1441

Email: p.spokesman@op.gov.eg Moh_moussa@op.gov.eg

Salutation: Your Excellency Twitter: @AlsisiOfficial


Egyptian embassies in your country. Find embassies contact here: https://www.egyptembassy.org/location/uk/

Social media

  • Raise awareness of Ismail al-Iskandrani’s case on social media, using the the following hashtags #FreeIsmail #Egypt #WorldPressFreedomDay


  • Please consider electing Ismail al-Iskandrani as an honorary member of your Centre.
  • Please send messeges of solidarity to his family at: Esraaomar426@yahoo.com


We further encourage you to highlight the case of Ismail al-Iskandrani and the state of freedom of expression in Egypt by:

  • Publishing articles and opinion pieces in your national or local press;
  • Organising readings and promoting Ismail al-Iskandrani’s work;
  • Organising public events, press conferences and demonstrations.


Egypt has long been a country of concern to PEN International due to the mounting violations of freedom of expression and the persecution of writers and journalists.[1] Since President al-Sisi seized power in 2014, the country’s human rights situation has dramatically deteriorated. The Egyptian authorities routinely punish any public or perceived dissent and severely repress the rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and association, including by censoring or blocking hundreds of traditional and independent media outlets, human right websites and political opposition websites.Scores of journalists, human rights defenders, activists and bloggers have been arbitrarily arrested and detained for prolonged periods without trials, and on trumped-up charges linked to their work or critical views of the government.


Note to Centres

The image used for this campaign can be re-used and shared by PEN Centres. This image cannot be used for commercial purposes. Copyrights/credits must be acknowledged.

Notes to editors

For further information, please contact Sabrina Tucci, Communications and Campaigns Manager, Sabrina.Tucci@pen-international.org and Mina Thabet, MENA Regional Coordinator: Mina.Thabet@pen-international.org +44 (0)20 7405 0338 |Twitter: @pen_int | Facebook: www.facebook.com/peninternatio… | www.pen-international.org

[1] See PEN International case lists – an annual report of persecuted writers – over the last decade: https://pen-international.org/who-we-are/case-lists.

AALITRA/PEN Translation Awards 2022 – ARABIC to ENGLISH

AALITRA/PEN Translation Awards 2022

The Australian Association for Literary Translation (AALITRA) and PEN Melbourne now invite entries for the 2022 AALITRA/PEN Translation Awards.

The AALITRA/PEN Translation Awards aim to acknowledge the wealth of literary translation skills present in the Australian community. Prizes are awarded for a translation of a selected prose text and for a translation of a selected poem, with the focus on a different language each time the prize is offered.

In 2022, the focus language is Arabic. The prose text for translation is by Ghassan Kanafani. The poetry text is by Soukaina Habiballah. Each text is available from our website.

At an Awards Ceremony later in the year, winners will be awarded a cash prize, a book prize, and one year’s membership of AALITRA. An Honourable Mention will be awarded in both sections. Prize-winning entries will be read aloud at the Awards Ceremony, and will be published on the AALITRA & PEN Melbourne websites and in AALITRA’s peer-reviewed, open-access journal, The AALITRA Review, along with a few comments from each of the translators.

Closing date: Friday May 27, 2022

Entries (see conditions below) and enquiries should be sent to aalitratranslationawards@gmail.com


AALITRA/PEN Translation Awards 2022

Conditions of entry

The competition is open only to Australian citizens and permanent residents of any age.

By entering, participants consent to their translation being published in The AALITRA Review and on the AALITRA website if it is awarded a prize.

There is no entry fee but all entrants are required to become members of AALITRA (https://aalitra.org.au/join-aalitra/). Cost: $10 (Student) or $25 (Full).

Only one entry per participant will be accepted: either the prose translation or the poetry translation.

Only electronic submissions in Microsoft Word format will be accepted. The translation must be submitted on the official submission form (available from our website), along with proof of the entrant’s Australian citizenship or permanent residency status. The judging process will be completely anonymous, i.e. all entries will be de-identified.

Your translation must be entirely your own work.

Late or incomplete entries will not be accepted. Once submitted, translations cannot be revised.

The judges’ decision is final. No correspondence will be entered into.

All participants will be notified by email of the outcome of the competition.

World Poetry Day, 21 March 2022

This year, PEN International calls for the release of Poet Maung Yu Py, detained by the Burmese authorities for exercising his right to freedom of expression through poetry. We have produced an action page, social media messages and audio visuals to promote this case. Please note that all materials are under embargo until Monday 21 March at 9am UK time. Links below will go live on Monday 21 March at 9am UK time.


World Poetry Day: Take action for Maung Yu Py (Myanmar)

English: https://pen-international.org/campaigns/world-poetry-day-2022

French: https://pen-international.org/fr/campaigns/journee-mondiale-de-la-poesie-2022

Spanish: https://pen-international.org/es/campaigns/dia-mundial-de-la-poesia-2022


Visuals: English, French, Spanish attached.

Social Media posts: English, Spanish attached. French, coming Monday.


We will further share the case of Ahmad Douma (Egypt) with final materials coming on Monday.



Freedom of expression is the foundation of human rights, the source of humanity, and the mother of truth. To strangle freedom of speech is to trample on human rights, stifle humanity, and suppress truth”  Liu Xiaobo, 2009.

Why Join PEN? (Articles)

Victorian Writer, PEN column

March 2022


Paul Morgan

They shoot poets don’t they?

On the night of 8 May 2021, Myanmar poet and pro-democracy activist, Khet Thi and his wife, Chaw Su, were taken from their home, in the city of Shwebo, by armed soldiers and police, and detained at a local police station. Khet Thi was separated from his wife and taken to a military facility where he was tortured to death. The next day his wife was contacted to collect his body from hospital . . .

With these words in the current PEN Melbourne Journal, Arnold Zable gives a chilling reminder of why PEN’s work is so necessary – ensuring that persecution of writers is exposed, providing them support, and campaigning for freedom of speech. PEN continues to support writers in Myanmar despite many being rounded up or murdered. As John Ralston Saul writes, ‘People say that writers are powerless. We don’t have an army. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested? Because the spoken word is powerful.’

PEN was founded in 1921. A hundred years on, the freedom to write and read is under threat more than ever. The annual PEN Case File bulges with the names of persecuted writers in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia . . . the list goes on.  ‘Liberal’ countries are selective about press freedoms too – for example, the police raid on the ABC for reporting on ASIS’s bugging of Timor Leste’s government, and the vindictive and unjustified imprisonment on remand of Julian Assange for journalistic activity. In the USA, home of ‘free speech’, book banning is now an organised Republican strategy. Hundreds of titles were banned from libraries in the past year as part of a concerted campaign – a ‘historic erasure’ – to repress discussion of racism and sexuality.

Authoritarian governments as well as conspiracy theorists and self-righteous bullies have embraced the power of social media. It enables them to control how people see the world, discouraging independent thought. Zadie Smith writes eloquently in her essay, ‘Fascinated to Presume: In Defense of Fiction,’ about how imaginative works – novels, stories, and poetry – perform a sort of magic, allowing us to break free from assumptions and ‘groupthink’. She quotes Colombian author, Héctor Abad:

Compassion is largely a quality of the imagination: it consists of the ability to imagine what we would feel if we were suffering the same situation. It has always seemed to me that people without compassion lack a literary imagination— the capacity great novels give us for putting ourselves in another’s place—and are incapable of seeing that life has many twists and turns and that at any given moment we could find ourselves in someone else’s shoes: suffering pain, poverty, oppression, injustice or torture.


This compassion and willingness to imagine ourselves in the lives of others is at the heart of PEN’s work. To find out more, visit penmelbourne.org or follow us on social media @penmelbourne.

Victorian Writer, PEN column

December 2021

Paul Morgan

The empty chair

PEN Melbourne is having a meeting soon. It’s a chance to come together at last after the lockdowns (how many did we endure?) and have a real-life, face to face catch-up. It’s a chance to meet up with old friends and make new ones. We’ve one new member who’d love to be there too – Nedim – but he can’t make it unfortunately. He’s unavoidably detained . . . in Van Prison in Turkey. In fact, he’s been there for the last 2,000 days, much of it in solitary confinement. His crime was a pretty serious matter, of course, to lead to such a savage sentence. He told the truth, and it doesn’t get much more serious than that to an authoritarian leader like Turkey’s Erdogan.

Nedim Türfent is an Honorary Member of PEN International’s Melbourne Centre. We’re in contact with him and his family, campaign for his release, and recently published a broadsheet to publicise his case. A young Kurdish journalist, he simply reported on a case of police brutality in 2016. The Turkish government’s response was not to suspend and investigate the police officers, but to threaten Nedim and prosecute him on trumped-up charges. Despite witnesses at his trial confessing they were tortured to give false testimony, he was sentenced to eight years and nine months in prison for supposedly ‘spreading terrorist propaganda’. As part of the sentence, he has spent almost two years in solitary confinement in harrowing conditions.

We won’t be seeing Nedim at our meeting in Melbourne, then. But we don’t forget him, and do our best to ensure others don’t forget about him either, along with all the hundreds of other writers and journalists persecuted around the world for telling the truth. In PEN tradition, an empty chair on the stage will make Nedim’s presence felt. We’ll write letters and cards to him, and continue to call for the quashing of his conviction and release from prison.

PEN International’s Melbourne Centre is based at the Wheeler Centre, and welcomes new members and volunteers to help with our work campaigning for people like Nedim. Sad to say, PEN has never been busier, with an increase in authoritarian governments around the world. Find out more about our work at www.penmelbourne.org.


Transforming a manuscript to a book: Editing, compromise, and censorship

Paul Morgan

Victorian Writer, PEN column
September 2021

Oh what a feeling! You’ve finished your story… but this is not the end; it’s only a beginning. A neat pile of A4 sheets has a very long way to go before it is transformed into a book.

We are generally too close to – and too much in love with – our own writing to see what needs fixing up to turn it into something that works at its best, keeping a reader turning those pages. To maximise the chances that your work is published and read, it deserves a professional edit. Is the basic concept likely to be picked up by a publisher? Are there plot twists or characters, which were fun to write but don’t add to the story? Does the middle section ‘sag’? Only after these and many other questions are answered, can you even think of submitting to an agent or publisher, let alone think about a copy edit or proofreading.

As part of this process, it’s not uncommon for an editor to suggest you change or remove a passage to make the work a more attractive prospect for a publisher. The choice is yours, and you may not always agree, but it’s usually wise to accept the suggestion. In authoritarian countries (which now outnumber democracies in the world), such suggestions from publishers and authorities have dark consequences if not followed. At best you may be censored or ‘cancelled’. At worst, you may be tortured and imprisoned for years, as happens in Turkey, China, and so many other countries. The PEN International Case List gives chilling details on the scores of writers and journalists persecuted around the world.

It is not only political pressure which causes writing to be ‘edited’ in this way. It may be religious extremism, or a culture which fears sexual freedom. It may be conformity to orthodoxies (right or wrong, right or left), which are intolerant of discourse with other views. It is not only in fundamentalist societies where such restrictions are imposed. For example, Philip Pullman’s best-selling, ‘His Dark Materials’, trilogy was heavily criticised by Christian churches in the US for being ‘anti-religious’, so his North American publisher insisted on editing out a passage which described the heroine, Lyra’s, sexual awakening.

Navigating our own choices when reviewing a manuscript is never an easy task. However, it’s a deeply rewarding process that brings your words closer to becoming a publishable work. These are easy choices though, compared to the challenges faces by writers in countries where a wrong word can mean the author ends up in a dank prison cell for years. There is no greater demonstration that words matter, and have a power which dictators fear.


Picture this . . .

Paul Morgan

Victorian Writer, PEN column
June 2021

Lights Out

Weary but wakeful, feverish but still
fixed on the evasive bulb that winks on the wall,
thinking surely it’s time for lights out,
longing for darkness, for the total black-out.

Trapped in distress, caught in this bad dream,
the dust under my feet untouchable as shame,
flat on the cold ground, a span for a bed,
lying side by side, with a blanket on my head.

And the female guards shift, keeping vigil till dawn,
eyes moving everywhere, watching everyone,
sounds of the rosary, the round of muttered words,
fish lips moving, the glance of a preying bird.

Till another hour passes in friendly chat,
in soft talk of secrets or a sudden spat,
with some snoring, others wheezing
some whispering, rustling, sneezing –
filled the space with coughs and groans,
suffocated sobs, incessant moans –
You can’t see the sorrow after lights out.
I long for the dark, total black-out.

The delicate observations in this poem by Mahvash Sabet belie the horror of its subject. So picture this . . . you are a respected writer and school principal in Iran approaching your sixtieth birthday. One day you are arrested and charged with espionage and propaganda. The real reason, though, is ‘blasphemy’ – the crime of being a Baha’i not a Muslim in Iran’s theocratic state. You are sent to notorious Evin Prison where you are tortured and kept in a tiny dark cell. You must sleep on the cold cement floor with no pillow and only a thin blanket for cover. How is it going so far? Ten years go by . . .

Is it possible to endure such conditions without giving way to suicidal despair? For Mahvash Sabet, her survival strategy was to write poems. To distract from her own pain and distress, she focused on the lives of others in the prison – drug addicts and prostitutes as well as criminals – and on tiny details that gave her hope. Mahvash was desperate for the greenery of the natural world in her dark cell, and wrote an entire joyful poem about a thistle growing through a crack in the concrete floor. She called the poem, ‘The Great Outdoors’. Writing poetry enabled her to clean ‘the rust off my heart and recover the strength of my soul,’ Mahvash says. Her strength of mind is humbling.

Written on scraps of paper and smuggled to visitors, these writings were collected and published in an English translation as Prison Poems. After a decade of incarceration in these inhumane conditions, Mahvash was released in 2017 and named PEN International Writer of Courage for that year. While she is now free, the Iranian regime continues to persecute, torture, and imprison thousands of writers and others who dare to express views the regime does not like.

PEN International has a Melbourne office, based at the Wheeler Centre, and welcomes new members and volunteers to help with our work campaigning for people like Mahvash Sabet. Sad to say, PEN has never been busier, with the rise of totalitarian governments around the world. Find out more about our work at www.penmelbourne.org.


COVID and the Kingdom of Fear

Paul Morgan

Victorian Writer, PEN column
January 2021

‘How was your lockdown?’ a friend asked when we met for a picnic in the Botanic Gardens.
After the long COVID hibernation, it felt strange to be socialising again, yet the
honest answer was ‘fine!’ Like many of us who write for a living (and don’t have children at home), my routines were largely unchanged.

Yet I wasn’t immune to the fears and anxiety which we all felt over those long, winter
months. In Victoria alone, tens of thousands were infected. Over 800 died. Death seemed to stalk the city. We avoided strangers on the street. Some people wiped down their shopping
with disinfectant. We watched the Premier’s briefings obsessively, as hundreds of new cases were confirmed every day. Our lives were regulated to an extraordinary degree that it’s no exaggeration to call draconian. Police enforced an overnight curfew from 8 pm. It was illegal to be out of your house for more than sixty minutes, or over 5 km from home. Meetings of more than two people were forbidden.

The Murdoch media screamed in protest about ‘Dictator Dan’, but the lockdown
worked. Victorians are enjoying a well-deserved Life after COVID. Friends overseas tell me how surprised they are that Australians were so ‘compliant’, but that is to misunderstand our behaviour. The genius of totalitarianism, Lenin, wrote that ‘trust is good, control is better’. Victorians were not controlled, but trusted their government and consented to the rules for the sake of public health and to save lives. In many other parts of the world, though, such draconian restrictions on life have long-predated the pandemic – not for health reasons, but to control and stamp down on any opposition. From Russia to Egypt, from Myanmar to China, and in dozens of other countries, people live in kingdoms of fear. To write or speak the truth brings imprisonment or death. Lenin recognised the power of words and the danger they posed for totalitarian regimes.

‘Why should freedom of speech and freedom of press be allowed?’ he wrote. ‘Why
should a government which is doing what it believes to be right allow itself to be
criticized? It would not allow opposition by lethal weapons. Ideas are much more fatal
things than guns.’

We have every right in Australia to to be proud of having created a ‘Doughnut Nation’
and to congratulate ourselves on the lifting of pandemic restrictions. As writers, we can enjoy these freedoms and continue our happy, if impecunious, lives. You don’t need to worry whether writing and speaking the truth will bring a squad of Victoria Police knocking down the door of your study, poisoning you with nerve agents, or simply putting a bullet in the back of your head. Yet this is a daily reality for writers and others who speak out in dozens of countries around the world today.

As you gaze out of the window, deciding whether to use a comma or semi-colon, or
wander down to the kitchen to make a latté coffee, give a thought to others who don’t have the luxury of being the citizen of a democratic society. Remember the uncertain fate of brave Alexei Navalny. Remember Lucía Ubau, a journalist imprisoned in Nicaragua. Remember poet, Maung Saungkha persecuted by the government of Myanmar, Asli Erdogan exiled from Turkey, and hundreds of others attacked for telling the truth. To discover more about these writers and the work of PEN to support them, follow us on social media, visit our website, and become a member to campaign for their release.


Once upon a time . . .

Paul Morgan

Victorian Writer, PEN column
October 2020

Who doesn’t love a story? From ancient cave paintings to the latest novel or Netflix series, we have always been captivated by stories. The reasons go deeper than mere entertainment (not that I’m knocking the value of entertainment, especially this year). As Aristotle noted over 2,000 years ago, the ‘pretence’ of storytelling – portraying people and events that didn’t actually happen – is a profoundly important element of all human cultures. Why is that?

Experiencing the lockdown has been a reminder of the far worse situation of writers in prison for simply telling the truth. There is another form of imprisonment, however, that we never escape – solitary confinement within our own skulls. We are all utterly alone in our heads – however much we love or empathise with another person, we will never know what it is like to be someone else.

As Aristotle recognised, stories allows us to escape this prison for a while and learn from the experience. We can imagine how it feels to be a penniless orphan in Victorian Britain; a Greek soldier sulking in his tent before the walls of Troy, or a Japanese teenager lost in an alternative universe. Great Expectations, the Iliad, and IQ84 are all ‘untrue’. They are told by narrators pretending to be different people, about events that never really happened, and yet they are the lies that tell the truth. These different perspectives transport us into a kind of virtual reality in which we are warriors,
adventurers, criminals, people forced to make terrible choices, and an infinite number of other situations – all from the safety of our sofa.

We are never the same after reading a story. It gives an utterly different perspective on reality and relationships than the ‘solitary confinement’ of our own minds. We can never un-learn these lessons about how and why people think, feel, and act the way they do, ourselves included. Our lives are full of sliding doors – those ‘what if . . .’ moments – which stories allow us to experience vicariously.

For totalitarian regimes, this freedom of thought is the enemy. Around the world, in dozens of countries from China to Iran, writers are imprisoned for years, solely for using their imagination. They don’t need to be critical of the regime; it is sufficient crime to ask that dangerous question, ‘what if . . ?’ And if people start to wonder about different ways of seeing the world, then the regime’s entire narrative of society is in danger of cracking and give way.

PEN International was not established as a political organisation. Our mission is to campaign for the right of all writers to express themselves, to exercise their imagination, and to speak the truth. If totalitarian regimes regard that simple freedom as a political act, then so be it!

Taking part in PEN International campaigns is a practical and straightforward way in which all of us can express support for fellow-writers persecuted for telling stories that dictators do not want to be heard. You can be part of this struggle by joining the Melbourne PEN Centre and supporting our work.



The politics of writing

Paul Morgan

Victorian Writer, PEN column
August 2020


In This Country, We Can Only Hibernate

Winter arrives too early.
Our trees begin to wither.
We no longer have the nutrients to offer them;
Our dark hair slowly freezes to white
In the snows of passing time.
Our skin is like chapped fields.
Winter is here,
We all love to hibernate.
Our hearts are tired
Our blood is tired,
We nestle beneath the snow to hibernate.

Is this a political poem? Despite being a translation, the lines retain a cool lyrical beauty. It reminds me of Rilke. The landscape and people become one. They are ‘our trees’ yet ‘our dark hair’ turns white like the land under snow. While we feel the cold, the poet writes, it is the fields which are chapped like our skin. The only option is to hibernate. There is acceptance but also a quiet will to awaken again when the time comes.

As well as describing winter, the poem evokes a melancholic mood that might relate to lost love, to feeling depressed, or simply to the passing of time – enduring with dignity and waiting for a hard season to pass. The lines were written by Chinese poet, Li Bifeng. Imprisoned after the Tiananmen Square protest, he has spent much of the past 30 years in prison. This immediately changes how we read the poem. It evokes the Chinese people surviving under a totalitarian government. The poem itself hasn’t changed, of course. A political interpretation does not stop it being lyrical. A good work of art is like a prism, with multiple interpretations which do not cancel
each other out

But for totalitarian governments, everything is political. Any writing which displays
independent thought is suspect. (In China, even Winnie the Pooh is banned, as the little bear resembles leader, Xi Jinping.)

PEN International was founded with a commitment to freedom of expression but ‘no politics’. With the rise of fascism, PEN realised this was a naively idealistic position, condemned the Nazi book burnings, and campaigned against the persecution of writers in Germany. Ever since, it has spoken out against tyrannical regimes and supported imprisoned writers.

In a sense, authoritarian leaders have always know the truth: everything is indeed political. Politics permeates and affects every part of life. Writers cannot claim to ‘be above it’. Free speech is part of the Liberal Project of individual rights which began in the seventeenth century and received a fillip in the post-1945 era. We cannot pretend political differences do not exist or simply blank them out. As Nick Cave recently wrote, ‘refusal to engage with uncomfortable ideas has an asphyxiating effect on the creative soul of a society’. It is our duty to engage with them, and to defend other writers
who do so at great cost to themselves, sometimes at the cost of their lives.

At PEN Melbourne, our sole focus is this fight to defend these writers who speak the truth.


A statement by pre-eminent Contemporary Russian writer, Ludmila Ulitskaya

A statement by pre-eminent Contemporary Russian writer, Ludmila Ulitskaya published in Novaya Gazeta and translated by PEN member Subhash Jaireth.

On February 24, 2022, the war began. I believed that my generation, born during World War II, was lucky, and we would live without war until death, which, as promised in The Gospel, would be ‘peaceful, painless and shameless.’ No. It looks like it won’t happen. And it is not known what the events of this dramatic day would bring. The madness of one man and his loyal accomplices controls the fate of our country.

One can only speculate about what will be written about it in the history books fifty years from now.

Pain, fear, shame – this is what I feel today.

Pain – because the war strikes all the living – grass and trees, animals and their offspring, people and their children.

Fear – because there is a general biological instinct to preserve one’s own life and the life of our children.

Shame – because it’s clear that the leadership of our country bears the responsibility of creating this situation, fraught with great misery for all of us.

Responsibility for what is happening today will be shared by us all, who are living through these dramatic events, and who failed to foresee and stop them. It is necessary to stop the war that is flaring up every minute and resist the propaganda-lies fed to us by our media.


24 февраля 2022 года началась война. Я считала, что моему поколению, родившему во время Второй мировой войны, повезло, и мы проживем без войны до смерти, которая будет, как обещано в Евангелии, «мирной, безболезненной и непостыдной». Нет. Похоже, не получится. И неизвестно, во что все события этого драматического дня выльются. Безумие одного человека и преданных ему подсобников руководит судьбой страны.

Можно только делать догадки о том, что будет написано об этом в учебниках истории через пятьдесят лет.

Боль, страх, стыд — вот чувства сегодняшнего дня.

Боль — потому что война бьет по живому — по траве и деревьям, по животным и их потомству, по людям и их детям.

Страх — потому что есть общебиологический инстинкт, направленный на сохранение собственной жизни и жизни потомства.

Стыд — потому что очевидна ответственность руководства нашей страны в создании этой чреватой великими бедствиями для всего человечества ситуации.

Ответственность за происходящее сегодня разделим и все мы, современники этих драматических событий, не сумевшие их предвидеть и остановить. Необходимо остановить ежеминутно разгорающуюся войну и противостоять пропагандистской лжи, которая изливается на наше население всеми средствами массовой информации.


Ludmila Ulitskaya was born in 1943 in the Urals. After the graduation from Moscow University with a Degree of Master in Biology, she worked in the Institute of Genetics as a scientist. Shortly before perestroika (1979/1982) she became Repertory Director of the Hebrew Theatre of Moscow, and a scriptwriter.

She is the author of many novels and novellas including Medea and Her Children, Kukotsky Case, Sincerely Yours, Shurik, Daniel Stein, Interpreter, Imago / The Big Green Tent, and Yakov´s Ladder, of several collections of short stories, of tales for children, and of six plays staged by a theaters in Russia and Europe.

Ludmila Ulitskaya is one of the most profound and far-reaching writers of the contemporary Russian literature, and one of the most published modern Russian authors abroad.