‘Enough is enough’: Australia’s leader calls for release of Assange

Sydney, Australia, May 5 (EFE).- Australia’s prime minister has in London called for the release of Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who is detained in a British high-security prison while fighting a request for extradition to the United States, where he is accused of various crimes.

“I continue to say in private what I said publicly as Labor leader, and what I’ve said as prime minister: that enough is enough,” Anthony Albanese said in a TV interview with Australian public broadcaster ABC in London, where he is visiting to attend King Charles III’s coronation on Saturday.

Australian Assange has been held since May 2019 in the high-security Belmarsh prison in southeast London while fighting extradition proceedings.

He is wanted by Washington over 18 charges related to illegally obtaining, receiving and disclosing classified information as a result of WikiLeaks exposing alleged US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The counts total a maximum sentence of up to 175 years in prison if found guilty.

The Australian leader, whose government has stepped up diplomatic efforts to free the WikiLeaks co-founder since Albanese took office last year, refused to tell ABC whether he will discuss Assange’s case with US President Joe Biden when they meet in Sydney at the end of this month.

However, Albanese admitted that the situation of the detained Australian is “frustrating,” especially since “the person who released the information is walking freely now having served some time in incarceration.”

Albanese was referring to former US military intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning (formerly Bradley Manning), who in 2013 was found guilty of charges including espionage for leaking the secret military files to Wikileaks. She was sentenced to 35 years in prison, but former US president Barack Obama commuted the rest of her sentence in 2017.

“I think that the Assange case needs to be looked at in terms of what occurred, what the allegations are, and whether the time that he has effectively served already is in excess of what would be reasonable if it were proved that this had occurred,” Albanese told ABC, according to the transcript published by the leader on his website on Friday.

“I don’t get into the argument of whether what Julian Assange did was right or wrong, because I have some issues with what he did. But I just say that enough is enough. There is nothing to be served by his ongoing incarceration. And I am concerned about Mr. Assange’s mental health.”

Assange, who has claimed to be the victim of political persecution by the US, has been imprisoned since Ecuador in 2019 expelled him from its London embassy in which he had been holed up since 2012 after requesting and obtaining political asylum.

The High Court in London is deciding whether Assange can appeal the June 2022 decision of the British Home Office to authorize his transfer to Washington. EFE


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