2023-08-28 For immediate release

Pro-Assange activists around the world will be holding a sit-in outside Australian embassies and consulates this Saturday (2/9) to ask the Australian government to take more concrete, visible steps to stop the judicial persecution of Julian Assange. The Australian-born journalist and editor is currently imprisoned in the UK awaiting extradition to the US to stand trial for having revealed alleged war crimes committed by the US and the UK in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In Rome, Italy, activists will be giving a letter for Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the Australian ambassador there, HE Margaret Twomey. The letter asks the PM to exert “more visible pressure on the United States” in demanding Assange’s return to Australia.

Alluding to US Secretary of State Blinken’s recent encounter with Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, in which she failed to counter Blinken’s unnuanced condemnation of Assange, the letter goes on to say that hers is not an example of taking a resolute stand. Nor is it an example of using the leverage that Australia now wields, as a strategic defence partner, to get the US to drop its charges against Assange. The letter concludes by asking Mr. Albanese to “start being more resolute”.

Contemporaneously there will be a sit-in in Milan outside the Australian Consulate, organised by the Committee for the Liberation of Julian Assange – Italy, as well as analogous sit-ins in Wellington, London, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Chicago, Denver, Boston and in other cities around the world.

An international chorus of voices will be calling on PM Albanese to finally “stand up for Julian!”.

The text of the letter by Free Assange Roma follows.


28 August 2023

The Hon. Anthony Albanese
Prime Minister of Australia
Canberra, Australia

Dear Prime Minister,

We are writing you at the behest of our fellow activists in Australia who have designated September 2nd as “Worldwide Australian Embassy Day”. They have asked us to organise sit-ins on that day outside Australian embassies and consulates, to demand more visible pressure on the United States to drop its charges, as well as its UK extradition request, regarding Julian Assange.

They tell us that such a demand has the support of a large part of the Australian population and a significant cross-party coalition in Parliament as well.
They also tell us that, in current US-Australia bilateral relations, Australia now holds the upper hand since the US needs Australian territory for the new military bases it wants to build. That means Australia could assuredly make Assange's release a precondition for negotiations. SO WHY HASN’T THIS BEEN HAPPENING?

We know, of course, that you have indeed expressed your “preoccupations” for Julian in encounters with the US. Recently (29 July 2023), for example, Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong expressed those preoccupations to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken. But Blinken immediately rejected them claiming that his country had preoccupations of its own, namely, that Assange, by revealing US/UK war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan, had "risked causing very serious harm to [US] national security."

But notice Blinken’s choice of words. He did not state that Assange had actually caused harm (as was falsely claimed at the time of the revelations); he simply alleged that Assange risked – hypothetically – causing harm, which is a very different story. Indeed, on 16 August 2010, then US Defence Secretary Robert Gates sent written testimony to a US Senate committee denying that the WikiLeaks revelations had compromised national security in any way. The same for the claim of actually having caused death or personal injury: for Gates such claims are unfounded.

So how is it possible to persecute a man for 13 years and attempt to imprison him for another 175, just because he allegedly caused a hypothetical risk years ago? Isn’t the disproportion egregious?
That's the obvious reply Wong should have given to Blinken, but failed to. And she should have added that the four years Assange has spent in solitary confinement in a British Maximum Security Prison are more than enough to compensate for any risk he hypothetically may have caused. And, thus, the U.S. should withdraw its request for extradition.

Instead, she said nothing.

This is NOT taking a resolute stand. This is NOT using your leverage to get the US to stop persecuting Assange.

So in Rome, Italy, on Saturday, 2 September, at 5pm, we Free Assange Roma activists will be assembling in front of the Australian Embassy to ask you to make use
of your leverage to the hilt and take concrete, visible steps to bring Julian back home to Australia.

Contemporaneously there will be a sit-in in Milan outside the Australian Consulate in piazza San Babila, organised by the Committee for the Liberation of Julian Assange – Italy, as well as in Wellington, London, Paris, Berlin, Munich, Chicago, Denver, Boston, Tulsa and in other cities around the world.

In an international chorus of voices, we all will be asking you to start being more resolute.

Will you be?

Most respectfully,

Free Assange Roma