The newly elected prime minister of Australia, Anthony Albanese, refused on Monday to publicly demand the United States drop its prosecution of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who’s also an Australian citizen.
Albanese, however, reiterated his previous comments opposing the ongoing pursuit of the WikiLeaks co-founder and his pre-election position that Assange should go free although he personally doesn’t have sympathy for many of Assange’s actions.
He indicated that despite the public calls on social media and from Australian current and former political figures, he intends to pursue the issue out of the public glare and to lead a government that engages diplomatically and appropriately with the partners of Australia.
After the British government approved Assange’s extradition to the US last Friday, the calls for the Albanese government to publicly intervene on behalf of Assange drastically increased among the people in Australia as well as among politicians.
If extradited and convicted, Assange is facing up to 175 years in prison on 18 charges, most of them under the US Espionage Act.
Former Australia’s foreign minister and former PM of New South Wales, Bob Carr, blasted in an op-ed Scott Morrison’s cabinet for not even faking protest while the Trump administration ramped up its extradition campaign to take Assange into US custody.
Morrison lost the federal election to Albanese last month, so Carr called Canberra now to lever Washington’s need to have Australia as a security ally in the Pacific to stop the prosecution of Assange.
Carr wrote that Morison’s cabinet acted as if it was not a sovereign government and showed that an Australian passport holder didn’t rate protection from the American security apparatus’ vengeful anger.
He also warned that the potential Assange’s trial in the United States would ignite anti-Americanism in Australia in a way that hasn’t been seen, noting that hostility to the Australian-US alliance isn’t in the interests of either country.