Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is facing extradition to the US after the British government gave the green light. Assange has been charged with espionage in connection with the publication of classified information about US actions in the war in Iraq.
Barrister Greg Barnes has worked pro bono on the Assange case for the past nine years as part of Assange’s Australian campaign.
Barnes argues that Assange’s issue “relates to fundamental issues such as freedom of the press and freedom of speech.”
The election of the Albanian government has renewed calls for Australia to do more to try to bring Assange home.
“We’ve definitely been encouraged by the new government’s approach,” says Barnes.
“I think Anthony Albanese himself has been committed for some time in his public statements and has certainly supported Assange’s position in private. He has made it clear in a number of statements on the subject that this has indeed gone on long enough.”
“There has been a marked change in Mr. Albanese’s rhetoric, but I also think in his very eloquent statement, he did not want to deal with this issue with megaphone diplomacy, which we respect because of course you are dealing with Australia’s closest ally “.
“He wants to do something, but he wants to do it in a way that respects the friendship between Australia and the United States.”
On what US President Joe Biden should keep in mind when it comes to relations with Australia and the Assange issue, Barnes notes that Biden “made a number of speeches that now talk about democracy and the importance of democratic values.”
“This is an opportunity to affirm these values by declaring that freedom of speech and freedom of the press are fundamental in a democracy and in a democratic world. And so there are certainly many opportunities and many reasons why President Biden could take up this issue.”
“This case has taken too long. Fundamental principles are at stake, and it’s time to end this.”