Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday rejected Australian concerns about WikiLeaks founder and Australian citizen Julian Assange, who faces as much as 175 years in jail if extradited to the US and convicted for exposing US battle crimes.
Blinken was in Australia with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to debate bolstering army ties between the US and Australia. At a press conference in the course of the go to, Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong mentioned Canberra has made clear to Washington that it desires the US to drop its case towards Assange.
“We have made clear our view that Mr. Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and our desire that it be brought to a conclusion. And we’ve said that publicly, and you would anticipate that that reflects also the position we articulate in private,” Wong mentioned.
Blinken confirmed that the problem has been mentioned however rejected Australia’s issues. He mentioned Australia should acknowledge the US’s place on Assange, claiming the Wikileaks founder’s alleged actions risked “very serious harm to our national security.”
“Mr. Assange was charged with very serious criminal conduct in the United States in connection with his alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of our country,” Blinken mentioned. “So I say that only because just as we understand sensitivities here, it’s important that our friends understand sensitivities in the United States.”
Assange has been indicted below the Espionage Act by the US Justice Department associated to paperwork WikiLeaks printed that it obtained from former Army Private Chelsea Manning. But Assange obtained the fabric utilizing customary journalistic practices, and if he’s convicted within the US, it would set a grave precedent for press freedom.
Assange has been held in London’s Belmarsh Prison since April 2019 and lately filed one other attraction towards the UK’s determination to extradite him to the United States. “Mr. Assange has filed a renewal of appeal application in the UK,” Wong mentioned. “The Australian Government is not party to these legal proceedings, and nor can we intervene with them. Having said that, we will continue to offer him consular assistance and to convey our expectations about his treatment.”
While Wong says the Australian authorities desires the case towards Assange to be delivered to an finish, it has not impacted ties between the US-Australia. After signing the AUKUS army pact that can finally permit Canberra to accumulate nuclear-powered submarines, the US and Australia proceed to extend army cooperation.
After two days of talks in Australia, the 2 sides introduced the US would expand its military presence in the country by sending extra submarines, including common rotations of US Army watercraft, and collaborating on joint missile manufacturing. The US enlargement in Australia is a part of its army buildup to arrange for a future battle with China.