The Hon. Anthony Albanese, MP
Prime Minister of Australia
PO Box 5100, Marrickville, NSW, 2204.
2 October, 2023
Dear Prime Minister
We of Pax Christi, Victoria, wish to express both our concern and dismay that after 12 years of persecution, Julian Assange is still in detention in the notorious Belmarsh prison. He is in solitary confinement, when ironically, he has never been charged or convicted except for a minor charge of breaking bail for which he was sentenced to 11 months jail after he was dragged from asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy. He was given 15 minutes to brief a lawyer and 15 minutes for the hearing before this sentence. Normally for breach of bail, it would just be the handing over of passport and a reporting requirement. For Julian it meant imprisonment in Belmarsh where he remains on remand.
Over the years there have been many disparaging stories about Julian. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzera admitted that initially he would not take notice of complaints about the treatment of Julian, because like many, he was prejudiced against Julian after years of government propaganda and media coverage attacking his reputation. However, after visiting Julian in Belmarsh in 2019 he reported: ‘In 20 years of work with victims of war, violence and political persecution I have never seen a group of democratic States ganging up to deliberately isolate, demonise and abuse a single individual for such a long time and with so little regard for human dignity and the rule of law’.
Julian’s “crime” as we know, was to expose war crimes, the one best known being the “collateral damage” video in Iraq, which included the killing of journalists from Reuters. For a long time, Dean Yates, head of Reuters in Iraq at the time, tried to get answers and was told “rules of engagement” were followed. Only with this video did he learn the truth.
Julian has never been given a fair trial and a brief reading of procedures soon shows this. Julian is charged under the Espionage Act which is inherently political. People like Agnes Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, called it politically motivated and unjustified. Daniel Ellsberg called it the legal scandal of the century. Moreover, under the UK-US Extradition Treaty, extradition for a political offence is prohibited. Home Secretary, Priti Patel chose to ignore this when she signed papers for his extradition.
Prime Minister, both you and Senator Penny Wong have said that the case has gone on too long. There has been no “rule of law” or “due process” accorded Julian and only well documented threats of kidnapping, surveillance and even execution on the part of the CIA. Even Anthony Blinken recently persisted publicly in the lie: that Julian’s publishing of the truth put people in danger. This has already been ably debunked by American authorities, Julian held truth above his own welfare and refused to supply the names of sources even when he was offered freedom to do so.
Unlike the media picture often painted of Julian, he is a man of integrity whose health is suffering badly for his stance. His wife and children deserve to be with their husband and father. Julian is an Australian citizen who should be commended for his stand for truth and the lives he has saved because of this. We commend those in the Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group and join with them in calling you to tell the US Government he must be released now and returned to Australia. It would be preferable for Australia to have a Prime Minister who stood up for an Australian citizen, than one who has to answer for another death in custody, as Julian’s health fails.
We would appreciate a personal response to the above concerns and some assurance that you have actually sighted this letter
Catriona Devlin, csb
on behalf of Pax Christi Victoria