‘Turning point’: Assange wife’s plea to PM
The wife of jailed whistleblower Julian Assange has called on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to help return her husband to Australia.
The WikiLeaks founder is currently jailed in London’s Belmarsh Prison as he awaits extradition to the US over the leaking of classified material.
Mr Albanese said he was “frustrated” over stalled negations for Assange’s release ahead of US President Joe Biden’s planned visit to Australia
“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,” he said.
In her first ever visit to Australia, Stella Assange told protesters in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Wednesday that Mr Albanese needed to do more.
“We’ve reached a turning point because they (the government) know what they are doing is wrong,” Ms Assange said.
“I have to explain to my children what’s going on … that Julian showed the world bad people were doing bad things.
“Julian wants to show his children where he grew up and I long for the day when he will be able to do that.”
The US is seeking to extradite Mr Assange from the UK on 18 charges relating to the publishing of tens of thousands of military documents.
The revelation, also known as Cablegate, publicly outed military operations and alleged war crimes committed by US forces.
Australian whistleblower David McBride, who is also facing possible imprisonment, said Mr Albanese’s concerns “meant nothing”.
“I say this to Anthony Albanese: enough of saying enough is enough,” Mr McBride said.
“We need some action and if you can’t do it, Mr Albanese, step aside and let someone who can do it take over.”
Mr McBride, a former military lawyer, will face trial later this year for allegedly leaking classified documents.
The rally, which was attended by hundreds of people, was planned to coincide with US President Joe Biden’s aborted trip to Australia.
Mr Biden was slated to be in Australia for a meeting of the QUAD alliance this week, but cancelled his trip over talks about the US debt ceiling.
The last-minute cancellation and recently signed AUKUS military pact were also the target of protesters’ frustrations on Wednesday.
The military alliance will see the US, UK and Australia work closer than ever on security issues, including China.
Mr Assange’s father and brother, John and Gabriel Shipton, were critical of all three governments when they addressed protesters.
“We have a tradition which we place on the shoulders of the current government to remind them that they represent us,” Mr Shipton said.
“The institution of policy will fail because we do not support those policies.”
Activist Craig Andrews travelled from Canberra to attend the rally and said the movement to free Mr Assange had widespread support.
“This is a great threat to a man’s life and a great threat to freedom,” Mr Andrews said.
“If 70 or 80 per cent of Australians want to free Mr Assange, it is Mr Albanese’s job to take that to the US.
“People are losing trust with Mr Albanese and Penny Wong. It is going to shine a very dark light on them.”
Opposition leader Peter Dutton previously mirrored the Prime Minister’s view that the Mr Assange’s case needed to be resolved.
The Liberal leader told the ABC earlier this month he was concerned for Mr Assange at an “individual level”.
“I think it has gone on for too long,” he said.
“I think that is the fault of many people, including Mr Assange, to be honest.”