Crime & Justice

Assange’s father says extradition process is a ‘disgrace’

By Rocio Otoya

Sydney, Australia, Jun 29 (efe-epa).- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s father, John Shipton, is fighting tirelessly for the release and return of his son, who is facing an extradition trial in London for publishing classified information, a process that he described as abuse in an interview with Efe.

“We maintain that the extradition request is a fraud in the English court…it’s a fraud in the English legal system, it’s a case of abuse of process, it is a disgrace,” said Shipton, who traveled from Melbourne to Sydney to campaign for his son’s release.

The 80-year-old is organizing public events in Australia despite the ongoing coronavirus epidemic and hopes to travel to the British capital in August to support Assange during his extradition trial which, he says, is being carried out under “dire” circumstances.

In May 2019, the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, said, after visiting Assange in Belmarsh prison along with two medical experts, that he showed “all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture, including extreme stress, chronic anxiety and intense psychological trauma.” Assange has spent almost a decade in confinement, first under house arrest in a British town and then at the Ecuadorian embassy in London between 2012 until 2019, when Ecuador withdrew his political asylum status.

His father urges the Australian government to mediate with the UK administration for the release of his son, an Australian national, who is wanted in the US on 18 charges of espionage and computer intrusion, for which he could be sentenced to prison for up to 175 years.

QUESTION: When was the last time you saw your son?

ANSWER: Some months ago. Now, after the coming of Covid-19, the jails were closed down, all the visits to the jail finished, even lawyers. The only people allowed to visit the jail were doctors or priests.

Q: What is your plan, taking into consideration that the borders in Australian are closed and the extradition trial will be held in September?

A: I will do my best to return in any way I can to the United Kingdom in early August to support Julian.

They constantly say that consular access has been offered, this is not sufficient…what is required is vigorous diplomatic activity from the Australian government towards the UK.

Q: What exactly do you expect from the Australian government?

A: I believe the government can, if it wishes to, assist us in bringing Julian home. I believe that (it) is very simple for the prime minister (Scott Morrison) to pick up the phone and ring (his British counterpart) Boris Johnson and say Julian Assange is an Australian citizen in dire circumstances. This will resolve this immediately and that’s easily possible.

Q: What will change if Julian Assange is back in Australia, where he has to face the same extraction process? Will something in change in his legal battle?

A: Oh, change for his family. He will see his children and he would get to spend some time recovering from the imposition of psychological torture.

It (his legal battle) will change considerably because there is very strong political support for Julian in the parliament and in the community. It will be a considerable change.

Q: In May, Spaniard Aitor Martinez, one of Assange’s lawyers, said your son can only make 10-minute calls and, (out of) ten attempts to communicate by phone with him, only one worked, questioning whether it is a fair trial.

A: (The) trial (is) not possible. It is an abusive process. We maintain that the extradition request is a fraud in the English court…it’s a fraud in the English legal system, it is a case of abuse of process, it is a disgrace.

Q: During his asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, the Spanish security company UC Global allegedly spied on your son to sell the information to the CIA. How does this case influence the process against your son?

A: The spying carried out in the embassy in the recording of videos of Julian speaking with his lawyers, the following of Baltasar… the burglary of Baltasar’s offices, the constant harassment of Julian’s team, the Australian legal team in the UK, the Spanish legal team in Brussels, by the CIA…if it was in Australia the case simply could not go ahead.

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