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Open Letter to Kevin Rudd

Signed by a veritable international who's who.


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Dear Minister

We write to express our concern about the plight of Julian Assange. To date, no charges have been laid against Mr Assange by Swedish authorities. Nonetheless, we understand that should he be sent to Sweden, he will be held on remand, incommunicado. We note your comments last year about the need for Mr Assange to receive appropriate consular support. We trust that this consular support is being provided and will continue.

We are concerned that should Mr Assange be placed in Swedish custody, he will be subject to the process of 'temporary surrender', enabling his removal to the United States without the appropriate legal processes that accompany normal extradition cases. We urge you to convey to the Swedish government Australia's expectation that Mr Assange will be provided with the same rights of appeal and review that any standard extradition request would entail.

Any prosecution of Mr Assange in the United States will be on the basis of his activities as a journalist and editor (Mr Assange's status as such has been recently confirmed by the High Court in England). Such a prosecution will be a serious assault on freedom of speech and the need for an unfettered, independent media.

Further, the chances of Mr Assange receiving a fair trial in the United States appear remote. A number of prominent political figures have called for him to be assassinated, and the Vice-President has called him a 'high-tech terrorist'. Given the atmosphere of hostility in relation to Mr Assange, we hold serious concerns about his safety once in US custody. We note that Mr Assange is an Australian citizen, whose journalistic activities were undertaken entirely outside of US territory.

Mr Assange is entitled to the best endeavours of his government to ensure he is treated fairly. He is entitled to expect that his government will not remain silent while his liberty and safety are placed at risk by a government embarrassed by his journalism. Australians also expect that their government will speak out against efforts to silence the media and intimidate those who wish to hold governments to account.

We ask that you convey clearly to the United States government Australia's concerns about any effort to manufacture charges against Mr Assange, or to use an unrelated criminal investigation as the basis for what may effectively be rendition. We also urge the government to publicly affirm that Mr Assange is welcome to return to Australia once proceedings against him in Sweden are concluded, and that the government will fully protect his rights as an Australian citizen once here. We have copied this letter to your colleague, the Attorney-General.

Yours sincerely

The Undersigned

Phillip Adams AO, Adam Bandt MP, Wendy Bacon, Greg Barns, Susan Benn, Senator Bob Brown, Dr Scott Burchill, Julian Burnside QC, Dr Leslie Cannold, Mike Carlton, Professor Noam Chomsky, David Collins, Lieutenant Colonel (ret) Lance Collins, Australian Intelligence Corps, Eva Cox, Sophie Cunningham, Roy David, Andrew Denton, Senator Richard Di Natale, Peter Fitzsimons, Rt Hon Malcolm Fraser AC CH, Anna Funder, Professor Raimond Gaita, David Gilmour and Polly Samson, Kara Greiner, Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, Liz Humphrys, Professor Sarah Joseph, Bernard Keane, Professor John Keane, Stephen Keim SC, Steve Killelea, Andrew Knight, Mary Kostakidis, Professor Theo van Leeuwen, Ken Loach, Antony Loewenstein, Senator Scott Ludlam, David Lyle, Associate Professor Jake Lynch, Dr Ken Macnab, Professor Robert Manne, Alex Miller, Senator Christine Milne, Alex Mitchell, Reg Mombassa, Gordon Morris, Jane Morris, Julian Morrow, The Hon Alastair Nicholson AO RFD QC, Nicolé Nolan, Rebecca O'Brien, Elizabeth O'Shea, Michael Pearce SC, John Pilger, Justin Randle, Senator Lee Rhiannon, Guy Rundle, Angus Sampson, Senator Rachel Siewert, Marius Smith, Jeff Sparrow, Professor Stuart Rees AM, Rob Stary, Stephen Thompson, Dr Tad Tietze, Mike Unger, Dale Vince, Brian Walters SC, Rachel Ward, Senator Larissa Waters, Tracy Worcester, Marchioness of Worcester, Senator Penny Wright, Spencer Zifcak.

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