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PEN Humanitarian Assange Appeal to British Consulate: Demonstration at Consulate, 12pm Tuesday, 22 August at 90 Collins St

August 21, 2023 IN WIP
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An Open Letter to the British Consul General Regarding Mr Julian Assange

7 August 2023

Dear Mr. Stephen Lysaght,

We seek your urgent intervention in a matter that concerns the life of an Australian citizen, Julian Assange.

Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, William E. Gladstone, once stated

“Justice delayed is justice denied” in the spirit of the Magna Carta, clause 40, which reads “To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice”.

After fourteen years of detention, including four years in isolation in the maximum security Belmarsh Prison, Julian has no convictions apart from a bail violation in a case involving an investigation where charges were never made. Even this violation was to seek political asylum to which he was entitled.

The US charges under the Espionage Act are vigorously contested not only by Assange and his legal counsel, but by virtually every legal, human rights, and media organisation in the world. In any case, the extended time frame has superseded the cause of justice since he has been excessively punished by the process itself, an unacceptable outcome for those who believe in the rule of law.

The Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has repeatedly stated that “enough is enough”, and that “this matter should be brought to an end”. He has been joined in this call by opposition leader Peter Dutton and a cross bench of Australian MPs and Senators, the Friends of Julian Assange.

The current physical and mental health of Julian Assange is in a precarious state after fourteen years of detention, including four years in isolation in the maximum security Belmarsh Prison, conditions described by the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer as “psychological torture”. Over 60 medical doctors writing as Doctors for Assange have written:

“It is our opinion that Mr. Assange requires urgent expert medical assessment of both his physical and psychological state of health. Any medical treatment indicated should be administered in a properly equipped and expertly staffed university teaching hospital (tertiary care). Were such urgent assessment and treatment not to take place, we have real concerns, on the evidence currently available, that Mr. Assange could die in prison. The medical situation is thereby urgent. There is no time to lose.”

We, the members of the PEN International Melbourne Centre, are therefore respectfully calling for the immediate humanitarian repatriation of Julian Assange to Australia where he can receive the appropriate medical treatment he so urgently needs.

 Mr Lysaght, we would like to meet with you or your representative to present you with a copy of Nils Melzer’s book The Trial of Julian Assange which details the series of injustices that Mr Assange has suffered, and to discuss the course of action we propose.

We look forward to your acknowledgement of receipt of this letter.

Thank you for your kind consideration and urgent action,


Constantine Pakavakis and Dr. Josephine Scicluna

PEN International Melbourne Centre


Mr Lysaght replied on 16 August:


Dear Mr Pakavakis and Dr Scicluna

I refer to your correspondence of 7 August 2023 about Julian Assange.

As the case is subject to ongoing legal proceedings, it would be inappropriate to discuss further at this stage.

With best wishes,

Stephen Lysaght

On the 18th August PEN replied to Mr Lysaght:

Dear Mr Lysaght,

Thank you for your prompt response.

We understand that you cannot comment on legal proceedings.  Respectfully, could we point out:

  1. This is a humanitarian request, not a legal one.
  2. Our request for your urgent intervention is not a request for your legal intervention. To clarify, we would like you to urgently pass our concerns to the Home Secretary of the United Kingdom, Suella Braverman.
  3. Nine former Australian Attorneys-General haveco-authored a letter appealing to Prime Minister Albanese to escalate efforts to persuade  the United States to abandon the ongoing incarceration of Julian Assange.

Concerned that Julian’s health could deteriorate further or that he could face death in American custody, the group underscored the dangerous precedent the US’s pursuit of Julian sets for journalists and whistleblowers globally.

We would appreciate the opportunity to meet with you to discuss any options that may exist to safeguard Mr Assange’s health and human rights, even small steps such as transferring him to a medical institution, for example.

Every justice system in the world, including Australia, US and UK have proven cases of miscarriages of justice. Even the PM and Opposition leader of Australia are pointing to the obvious injustice of Mr Assange’s continued incarceration in a maximum security prison.

We hope you will consider the seriousness and urgency of this request and look forward to your response.

Thank you for your kind consideration,


Constantine Pakavakis and Dr. Josephine Scicluna

PEN International Melbourne Centre

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People say that (writers) are pretty powerless: we don’t have an army, we don’t have a bureaucracy. But if that were true, then why would writers be arrested?... Because the spoken word is powerful.

— John Ralston Saul on the work of PEN International