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Past time for the Government to act on Julian Assange

Dr Monique Ryan MP is calling on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Foreign Minister Penny Wong and Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus to disclose what they have done, and will do, to secure the release of Australian journalist Julian Assange and the cessation of the United States Government's espionage prosecution against him.

Attributable to Dr Monique Ryan MP:

"The US Government's prosecution of Australian journalist and publisher Julian Assange poses a major threat to press freedom around the world. Unfortunately, the evidence now available shows that, contrary to their statements, Prime Minister Albanese and his Ministers have done little to secure Mr Assange's freedom. None of them has written to their US counterparts to press for the espionage prosecution to be dropped."
"In Question Time on 30 November last year, I asked Mr Albanese whether the Australian Government would intervene politically with the United States Government to bring Mr Assange home. In reply, the Prime Minister said that while he had no personal sympathy for Mr Assange, his government would
'continue to act in a diplomatic way' in relation to the case and that he had 'raised this personally with representatives of the United States government'."
"While Mr Albanese gave no details, the Prime Minister's remarks were widely interpreted by journalists as signalling a shift towards greater activism to secure Mr Assange's release and return to Australia. Indeed, one prominent journalist declared that 'my expectation is in the next two months or so, Julian Assange will be released'."
"However, as so often is the case, it's worth looking behind government statements to see what is actually happening. In this case, the evidence now available shows that very little is going on."
"While the Prime Minister may have raised Mr Assange's case verbally with unnamed United States representatives, new Freedom of Information decisions reveal that neither the Prime Minister, nor the Foreign Minister, nor Attorney-General has written to their US counterparts in relation to Mr Assange."
"Asked to provide access to 'all correspondence or other record of communication' concerning Mr Assange sent to US President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken or Attorney-General Merrick Garland, the offices of the Prime Minister, the Foreign Minister and the Attorney-General have advised that such documents 'do not exist'."
"If the Albanese Government was serious about working to secure an end to the US prosecution and Mr Assange's release, then he and his Ministers would have raised this matter formally, in writing, with their counterparts at the top levels of the US Government."

"It is now confirmed they that they have not done so via any formal means."
The Albanese Government has said that it won't engage in 'megaphone diplomacy' in relation to Mr Assange. It remains unclear what is happening behind the scenes."
"Any effective effort to persuade the United States to end its prosecution of Mr Assange will require a concerted diplomatic effort, including formal written representations to press for the required interagency decision-making in Washington."
"If Mr Assange is deported from the United Kingdom and prosecuted in the US for what amounts to investigative journalism, it will send precisely the wrong message at a time when freedom of the press is under threat in many countries worldwide."
"Last week, in announcing a forthcoming national media roundtable, Attorney-General Dreyfus declared that 'Journalists should never face the prospect of being charged or even jailed just for doing their jobs'." Julian Assange is an Australian journalist who faces lifelong imprisonment for doing his job.
"When the Federal Parliament reconvenes in February, the Government will need to explain - in much more detail - when we can expect to see Mr Assange return to Australia."
Dr Monique Ryan was elected to the seat of Kooyong on a platform of transparency, accountability and government integrity.
Dr Ryan is available for interview.


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