WikiLeaks founder’s father says Australian government should ‘do something’ after his arrest in London
The father of the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has called on the Australian government to help his son and suggested he could be brought back to his home country, The Guardian, PA report.
John Shipton, who lives in Melbourne, urged Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison, to step in following Assange’s arrest in London last week.
He told News Corp paper the Herald Sun ($) that Morrison and the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (Dfat) “should in a nuanced way do something”.
He added: “It can be resolved simply to the satisfaction of all. There has been some talk in a meeting between a senator and a senior Dfat official to extradite Julian to Australia.”
Morrison has previously said Assange, an Australian citizen, would have consular assistance available to him but would not get “special treatment”.
Shipton also expressed shock at seeing his son removed from London’s Ecuadorian embassy on Thursday.
“I saw him, the way they dragged him down the steps, the coppers – he didn’t look good,” he added. “I’m 74 and I look better than him and he’s 47. It’s such a shock.”
With Australia in the midst of an election campaign, its opposition leader, Bill Shorten, said he was “happy to get my spokespeople to talk to his [Assange’s] lawyers in the course of the next few weeks”.
“I don’t know if Assange was a journalist,” Shorten said on Saturday. “I’m not going to say … he’s just like a backpacker who’s been on a binge in Bangkok and needs the help of the embassy. I accept it has more importance than that.”
The Greens leader, Richard Di Natale, told ABC TV’s Insiders program on Sunday: “Regardless of what you think of Julian Assange, the principle here is important. Julian Assange is responsible for uncovering what were war crimes in Iraq. This was important information in the public interest and an open and transparent democracy.
“We think that Australia should make representations to the US. If we have a special relationship with the US, let’s exercise that choice.”Timeline
In Britain, the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has said Assange should answer questions about sexual assault allegations in Sweden but said any extradition to the US should be challenged.
The comments came after more than 70 MPs and peers signed a letter to the home secretary, Sajid Javid, urging the government to ensure Assange faces Swedish authorities if they request his extradition.
Mr Corbyn told Sky News: “If there are allegations which Julian Assange needs to answer of sexual issues, sexual attacks that may or may not have taken place in Sweden, then it’s a matter for the courts to decide. But, I do think he should answer those questions.
“My objection was to his extradition to the United States because I do believe that WikiLeaks told us the truth about what was actually happening in Afghanistan and in Iraq.”
In May 2017, Sweden’s top prosecutor dropped the long-running inquiry into a rape claim against Assange, which he has always denied.
Prosecutors in Sweden have since confirmed that, while the investigation has not been resumed, they are looking into the case.
Labour MP Jess Phillips said the allegations against Assange in Sweden were “the first and most pressing case he should answer”.
“The UK government should support his extradition to Sweden before they even begin to consider any pressure from the US,” she wrote.