Barnaby Joyce wants end to Julian Assange extradition

Dominic GianniniAAP
Barnaby Joyce has called an end to efforts to extradite whistleblower Julian Assange to the US.
Camera IconBarnaby Joyce has called an end to efforts to extradite whistleblower Julian Assange to the US. Credit: AP

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has joined calls to end attempts to extradite jailed Australian whistleblower Julian Assange to the United States.

Mr Assange is currently in jail in the UK and a British court recently ruled he could be extradited to the US to face espionage charges for an alleged conspiracy to obtain and disclose classified information which revealed alleged war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Mr Joyce said the Wikileaks founder should either face British courts for alleged crimes committed on that country’s soil or be sent back to Australia.

“I have never met him and, from observation, don’t respect him. I presume I would not like him,” Mr Joyce writes in an opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“I view these facts as a clarion call to be all the more vigilant that he is treated just as one of my most powerful colleagues or dearest friends would be.

“It is a case of how our citizen is protected and judged. Imagine a sliding door moment, and it was not Assange but you who was in court in Britain.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce
Camera IconDeputy PM Barnaby Joyce says Mr Assange didn’t steal secret US files but only published them. Credit: AAP

Mr Joyce says Mr Assange didn’t steal secret US files but only published them, which did not breach any Australian laws at the time, and he was not in the US when leaks were put online.

“The question is then: why is he to be extradited to the US? If he insulted the Koran, would he be extradited to Saudi Arabia?

“If we are content that this process of extraditing one Australian to the US for breaking its laws even when he was not in that country is fair, are we prepared therefore to accept it as a precedent for applying to any other laws of any other nation to any of our citizens?”

Mr Joyce’s opinion piece comes a day after independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie called on the prime minister to pick up the phone to the US president and UK prime minister to end the prosecution.

Mr Wilkie, a former intelligence analyst, said the prosecution of Mr Assange had always been political and could be solved politically by Scott Morrison.

Mr Assange faces 175 years in prison in the US.

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