Letter to Amnesty Oz

MAY 31, 2017

An Australian citizen has been unlawfully detained without charge for 6 and a half years. For the last 5 years he has been detained in Ecuador’s London Embassy having been granted political asylum – but is unable to travel to take up that asylum as the UK government refuses to allow him safe passage out of the country.

I shouldn’t have to say any more for you to know that this Australian citizen is WikiLeaks publisher and journalist Julian Assange. US government threats to prosecute Assange and other WikiLeaks staff have been clearly stated and are ever present. They aim to prosecute WikiLeaks with espionage charges for the ‘crime’ of publishing – a prosecution which would dramatically impact upon freedom of the press.

But a look at Amnesty’s campaigns reveals a blindspot when it comes to one of the world’s most famous political prisoners. The United Nations has ruled that Assange should be immediately released and compensated. The Swedish ‘case’ has been revealed to be a sham, and the investigation has finally been closed. Assange has had no access to sunlight for 5 years.

Where is Amnesty when it comes to campaigning for the human rights of Julian Assange – an Australian citizen abandoned by the Australian government?

As a lifelong supporter and admirer of Amnesty’s work, I (and many others) are deeply disappointed and troubled by this glaring omission in your campaigns.

Australian Senator Scott Ludlam has said “This Australian citizen needs diplomatic, legal and political help from his government and he’s not getting it”. The Australian government has hung Assange out to dry, prioritising their obsequious relationship with the US and UK governments, over freedom of the press, human rights and international law.

Will you take up this important campaign for Assange’s right to take up political asylum in the face of persecution for his important publishing work?

Will you campaign for the Australian government to return his passport and pressure the UK government to respect the very international laws it was involved in creating and the international treaties the UK and Australian governments have signed up for?

I look forward to your response.

In solidarity,
Somerset Bean