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D13 - Australians in London Demand the Immediate Release of WikiLeaks founder

"Australians for the Immediate Release of Julian Assange | 13.12.2010 11:08

PRESS RELEASE *Vigil from 4.30pm Australian Embassy The Strand
*6pm Speeches/Music *Close 7.30pm * More info ph/text Ciaron 079 392 905 76
Australians in London Demand the Immediate Release of WikiLeaks founder
Letter from "Australians for the Immediate Release of Julian Assange" to
the Australian High Commissioner (see letter and signatories below)

PRESS RELEASE: Australians in London Demand the Immediate Release of WikiLeaks founder

DATE December 13th. 2010

For Immediate Release, No embargo

Australians in London Demand the Immediate Release of WikiLeaks founder

Letter from "Australians for the Immediate Release of Julian Assange" to
the Australian High Commissioner attached to this press release.

On Monday 13th December at 4.30 pm, concerned Australian academics, artists,
activists and expats will deliver a letter of demands to the Australian
High Commissioner calling for the Embassy to be proactive in securing
the immediate release from custody of fellow Australian citizen and
founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange. The letter has been signed by
celebrated journalist John Pilger, Australian born human rights activist
Peter Tatchell and a growing number of Bristish based Australians
outraged with the persecution of the WikiLeaks founder. Assange is presently
held in London's Wandsworth Prison having been denied bail at an intial
hearing at Westminister Court last week. The group, called "Australians
for the Immediate Release of Julian Assange", will
hold a vigil outside the Australia House on the Strand on the eve of Mr.
Assange's next bail appearance, which will take place on Tuesday 14th

The group believes that the refusal refusal to grant bail to Mr. Assange
is unjust and unwarranted'. 'They argue that this denial of
bail and present imprisonment of the WikiLeaks founder are politically
driven by forces with which the Australian government are in connivance.
They believe the actions of the Australian government and embassy in
relation to Mr Assange, an Australian citizen, amount to a dereliction of duty.
They are also demanding that the Australian government immediately
cease co-operation in the persecution of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks.

A spokesperson for the group, veteran Australain anti-war activist
Ciaron O'Reilly, stated:

"Many of us share Julian's background of being raised in the
authoritarian state of Queensland where civil liberties were denied as
matter of course. This formative experience shaped Julian in terms of
his passion for free speech as it shaped us before him. Others of us are
dismayed that, like Vietnam and Iraq, the present Australian government
has followed the United States into another immoral, illegal and
unwinnable war in Afghanistan. Julian's work with WikiLeaks has been
courageous and revelatory. He's in that jail for us and we're out on the
streets for him! We need to free him and bring this war and invasion of
Afghanistan to an end!"

High Commissioner to the United Kingdom
Australia House
London WC2B 4LA

Dear Mr Dauth,

We Australians, here in London and from further afield, ask you to convey to our urgent and emphatic request to the Gillard Government to do its utmost to defend Julian Assange’s human rights and the free and lawful operation of Wikileaks.

Australians around the world watch with grave concern as an Australian citizen is vilified by his own Prime Minister and Attorney-General, experienced lawyers whose words display a shocking disregard for the human right to presumption of innocence, and risk prejudicing any legal proceedings Mr Assange may face.

We welcome the Government’s subsequent assurance that Mr Assange’s passport will not be cancelled and that your embassy will afford him “all appropriate consular assistance.”

We learn from an Australian Government website that the High Commission has a duty to ensure Mr Assange “is treated no less favourably than local citizens detained for similar offences.” UK citizens, of course, enjoy the protection of the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantee their right to freedom of expression, presumption of innocence and fair trial. That is, UK citizens enjoy a significantly higher degree of legal protection than do Australians, and the Australian High Commission must ensure Mr Assange’s treatment by UK authorities accords with those more stringent standards.

May we remind all consular staff and the Australian Government that Mr Assange “has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers” and to do so “without interference by public authority.”

Further, Mr Assange has a human and legal right to be “presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law” and to be given a fair trial.

As you must know well, it is unlawful under s104 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 for anyone intentionally or recklessly to cause death or serious harm to an Australian citizen outside Australia. And yet the Australian Government has voiced no objection to the death threats levelled against Mr Assange by high-profile US citizens and others.

In light of the above, we, the undersigned:

1. Ask that Ms Gillard publicly and unequivocally withdraw her statement alleging illegal conduct on Mr Assange’s part, explain to the public why it was wrong for her to say that, and to apologise to Mr Assange.

2. Call on the Gillard Government robustly to defend Mr Assange both at home and abroad and to respect and defend his right to receive information and impart information freely, without interference by any public authority.

3. Ask the Attorney-General to initiate investigations into threats of violence against Mr Assange by persons in the United States and Canada, including Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, in violation of Australian law.

4. Urge the Gillard Government to oppose strenuously any application to have Mr Assange extradited to the United States, because it is unlikely he would receive a fair trial there.

We thank you for your attention to these matters of fundamental importance to a free and democratic society.

Sincerely, your compatriots,

John Pilger (from Sydney)
Peter Tatchell (from Melbourne) London-based Human Rights Activist
Michael Dutton (from Brisbane) Professor of Politics, Goldsmiths University of London
Deborah Kessler (from Brisbane) Concerned Citizen
Ciaron O’Reilly (from Brisbane) London Catholic Worker/Ploughshares
Eden Boucher (from Adelaide) musician ‘Lovers Electric’
David Turley (Adelaide) musician ‘Lovers Electric’
Sharon Turley (from Adelaide) Classical Musician
David Warburton (from Adelaide) Coffee Brewster
Saul Newman, teaches political theory at Goldsmiths, University of London.
John Hutnyk (from Melbourne) Prof. of Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths University of London
Peter Thomas (from Rockhampton, Queensland)
teaches History of Political Thought at Brunel University, London
Maria Albrecht (from Melbourne) Catholic Worker Farmhouse
Olivia Ball (from Melbourne, Australia) Human Rights Worker
Eric Snowball (from Sydney) social worker
Rik (from Sydney, Australia) Sound Engineer
Errol O’Neill (from Brisbane) Actor
Mary Kelly (Brisbane) University Worker
Dr Linnell Secomb (from Melbourne, Australia) Head of Department of Social, Political and Cultural Studies, University of Greenwich
Errin Collins, (form Lithgow, Australia) Occupational Therapist
Dan O'Neill (from Brisbane, Australia) Scholar

For more info contact:
Mobile 079 392 905 76

"Australians for the Immediate Release of Julian Assange
- e-mail: releasejuliaanssange at