Australia urges the release of Julian Assange

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder and an Australian citizen, has been facing extradition to the US from the UK.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese urged US and UK authorities to end their legal pursuit of Julian Assange.

The WikiLeaks founder, who is an Australian citizen, has been facing extradition to the US from the UK on espionage charges for years. He is accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of classified US documents on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010.

Assange is currently detained in London’s Belmarsh Prison. Albanese said in parliament that people may have different opinions on Assange’s actions, but the situation cannot continue indefinitely.

The prime minister’s remarks came a day after the Australian parliament passed a motion, initiated by independent MP Andrew Wilkie, to bring Assange back to Australia. The motion asked the US and UK to close the case so that Assange can reunite with his family in Australia.

Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton praised the motion and said it was a critical moment, as Assange could be extradited to the US as early as next week. He said that would sever Assange’s connections to his family and put him in a terrible prison system in the US.

Assange took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years to avoid extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations, which were later dropped. He was arrested after Ecuador withdrew his asylum in 2019.

US prosecutors claim that Assange conspired with US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to steal and publish secret documents.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but former President Barack Obama reduced her sentence to seven years and she was freed in 2017. She was jailed again in 2019 for a year for refusing to testify against Assange.

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