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Australian lawmakers tell US ‘enough is enough’ on Assange extradition

Members of the delegation who will travel to the US to campaign for the release of Julian Assange. From left: the Liberal senator Alex Antic, independent MP Monique Ryan, the Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce, Labor MPs Josh Wilson and Tony Zappia and Julian Assange's brother, Gabriel Shipton. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

A group of Australian lawmakers are set to travel to the United States this month to push for the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.The cross party delegation includes former Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, who said in a news conference on Tuesday "Enough is enough".

It's incredibly important that we use this opportunity to convey to the United States as even as a very strong ally, that the issue pertinent to Mr. Assange should be coming to a conclusion. Enough is enough. He's been incarcerated now for a long period of time.

Barnaby Joyce, Former Australian Deputy Prime Minister

The Australian delegation is scheduled to travel to the US ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the White House in October.

The Australian politicians are expected to focus on freedom of speech arguments when they fly to Washington, DC to warn against extraditing the Wikileaks founder from the UK.

People of the United States feel strongly about their First Amendment rights to free speech and to freedom of the press, and Australians feel the same way. Australia is an excellent friend to the US. And it's not an unreasonable request to ask the US to cease this extradition attempt on Mr. Assange. He is a journalist.

Monique Ryan, Independent Member of Australian Parliament

The delegation is expected to meet members of the US Congress and Senate, along with officials at the State and Justice Department's as well as the think tanks, American Civil Liberties Union and Reporters Without Borders.

The multi party delegation will urge US leaders to abandon their efforts to have Assange, who is an Australian citizen, extradited to the US to face 17 charges of espionage and one charge of computer misuse; the publication of thousands of military and diplomatic documents revealing US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq on his whistleblower website.

If convicted. Assange could face up to 175 years in jail. US Prosecutors allege Assange helped US Army Intelligence Analyst Chelsea Manning steal classified diplomatic cables and military files which WikiLeaks later published putting the life of US servicemen at risk.

However, Assange supporters assert that the WikiLeaks founder is being victimized for exposing wrongdoing by the US.

Greg Barnes, a human rights lawyer and campaign advisor for Assange, announced that the majority of Australians believe the pursuit of the Wikileaks founder should come to an end.

He said that can only happen if the US Department of Justice drops its extradition bill at once. Assange says he merely engaged in investigative journalistic activities that are legal in the US and that accusations of him conspiring to hack the Pentagon's computer systems were false.

He and his supporters believe the accusations are politically motivated and represent an unprecedented attack on press freedom and the public's right to know, seeking to criminalize basic journalistic activity.

The renowned American whistleblower, Daniel Ellsberg, deceased, who leaked the pentagon papers in 1971 which laid bare US deceit and lies about the Vietnam War, had blasted the US for its push to extradite Assange calling it "a blatant violation of press freedom".

There hasn't actually been such a significant attack on the freedom of the press, the First Amendment, which is the bedrock of our republic, really our form of government, since my case in 1971, 48 years ago, but I was indicted as a source.

And I warned newsmen then (at the time) that that would not be the last indictment of a source if I were convicted. Well, I wasn't convicted, the charges were dropped on governmental misconduct, and it was another 10 years before anybody else faced that charge under the Espionage Act again, Samuel Loring Morison.

And it was not until President Obama that nine cases were brought, as I'd been warning for so long, but my warning really was that it wasn't going to stop there, that, almost inevitably, there would be a stronger attack directly on the foundations of journalism against editors, publishers and journalists themselves.

And we've now seen that, as of yesterday, that's a new front in President Trump's war on the free press, which he regards as the enemy of the people; they're not supposed to extradite for political offenses, or for political motives, and this is obviously for both political motives and political offenses.

Daniel Ellsberg, Pentagon Papers Whistleblower

WikiLeaks has earned an internationally stellar reputation for disclosing secret documents from governments around the world on its website.

Since it was founded in 2006 it has published hundreds of thousands of secret files and diplomatic cables, but the nonprofit media organization owes the bulk of its global prominence to leaking US diplomatic cables that revealed the extent of corruption, horrifying killings, and, abuse of civilians, by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has come to be known as the face of the whistle-blowing NGO and obviously detested by many governments.

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