30 Nov 2022

Australia urging US to bring Assange matter to close - Albanese

6:52 pm on 30 November 2022
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange addresses the media from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in central London on February 5, 2016.

Julian Assange is facing extradition to the United States. Photo: Jack Taylor / AFP

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has raised the issue of the continued detention of Julian Assange in meetings with United States officials and is seeking to bring the matter to a close, he says.

In June, Britain approved the extradition to the United States of the Wikileaks founder, who is an Australian citizen, to face criminal charges on the release of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables.

Albanese said he would continue to advocate for Assange's release, even though he disagreed with him on "a whole range of matters".

"I have raised this personally with representatives of the United States government," Albanese told parliament.

"My position is clear, and has been made clear to the US administration, that it is time that this matter be brought to a close."

Assange spent seven years in Ecuador's embassy in London, when he was wanted by Swedish authorities on a sexual assault charge that has since lapsed.

However, he was dragged out and jailed by Britain in 2019 for breaching his bail conditions, and has stayed in prison in London while his extradition case was decided.

Detractors say Assange endangered US national security with the release of the classified documents in 2010. Supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero victimised for exposing US wrongdoing, such as in the Afghan and Iraq conflicts.

If extradited to the United States, he faces a sentence of up to 175 years in a maximum security prison.


* This story was edited inappropriately and has been corrected. RNZ is concerned and takes this matter extremely seriously. We are investigating and have taken appropriate action.

A previous version of this story was attributed to both Reuters and RNZ. The words added by RNZ, at the penultimate paragraph, did not meet our editorial standards. They were: Detractors claim Assange's journalism endangered US national security with the release of the classified documents in 2010. Supporters say he is a heroic journalist victimised for exposing US war crimes in the Afghanistan and Iraq.

The sentences have been reverted to the copy as supplied by Reuters.

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