Ahead of the US appeal hearing on the extradition of Julian Assange, Amnesty International has written to both Prime Scott Morrison and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne, urging the Australian Government to engage in a dialogue with the US and demand that all charges against Assange be dropped.
The importance of protecting journalists and publishers who play such a crucial role in not only informing our public, but ensuring that governments are held accountable, has never been greater. In this respect, the charges against Assange and his subsequent treatment in Belmarsh Prison are of grave concern.
If extradited to the US, Assange faces trial on 18 charges, 17 of them under the Espionage Act. Assange is the first publisher to face charges under the Espionage Act, and if convicted, could face up to 175 years in prison. A sentence that will lead to serious human rights violations due to detention conditions that could amount to torture or other ill-treatment, including prolonged solitary confinement.
Amnesty has received over half a million signatures from across the world, urging the US to drop the charges against Assange, with over 120,000 signatures added by Australians alone.