A delegation of Australian Members of Parliament will travel to the United States in a bid to stop the pursuit of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the lawmakers announced Tuesday.
The multi-party group, led by former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce and government MP Tony Zappia, said in a statement that they will travel to Washington D.C. on Sept. 20, where they will urge politicians and officials to abandon extradition efforts for Assange.
Assange, an Australian citizen, is wanted in the United States on 18 charges relating to WikiLeaks’ 2010 publication of thousands of classified documents on the U.S.-launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomatic cables.
He has been in prison in Britain since 2019, and is currently appealing a decision by the UK High Court in June 2022 to allow an extradition.
In the statement issued on Tuesday, Assange’s brother Gabriel Shipton said Australians overwhelmingly supported allowing him to return home.
“The vast majority of Australians can’t understand why the U.S. continues to act in a way that keeps Julian locked up in one of the worst prisons in the UK,” he said.
“Even Australians who didn’t support Julian’s actions believe he has suffered enough and should be set free immediately.”
A coalition of nine former federal, state and territory attorneys-general in August wrote an open letter to the Australian PM Anthony Albanese describing Assange’s treatment as “troubling” and calling for greater efforts to secure his freedom.
Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in May that he was frustrated at the lack of a diplomatic solution to the issue. ■