Julian Assange’s Human Rights Must be Upheld (media release)

13 March 2020

Merri-bek Council is writing to the Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne to urge the Australian Government to immediately step in to ensure the British authorities are upholding the human rights of Julian Assange, an Australian citizen and former resident of the inner north suburbs.

Mr Assange is in very poor health and facing extradition to the United States of America from the United Kingdom in an unprecedented Espionage Act prosecution for engaging in journalistic activity during his time as Wikileaks publisher. If convicted, he faces 175 years of imprisonment and needs urgent consular support to help him prepare his defence.

Council notes Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Europe, Massimo Moratti has said the UK must not extradite Julian Assange to the United States. 

“The British authorities must acknowledge the real risks of serious human rights violations Julian Assange would face if sent to the USA and reject the extradition request. The UK must comply with the commitment it’s already made that he would not be sent anywhere he could face torture or other ill-treatment.”

Council further notes the UN Special Rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer has said he fears Mr Assange’s human rights could be seriously violated if he is extradited to the United States. 

“My most urgent concern is that, in the United States, Mr Assange would be exposed to a real risk of serious violations of his human rights, including his freedom of expression, his right to a fair trial and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” said Mr Melzer.