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Julian Assange release: what are politicians around the world saying?

Julian Assange, WikiLeaks founder and former editor-in-chief, will appear before court in Saipan tomorrow to allegedly plead guilty to a felony charge. After this, he will be returning home to Australia, according to WikiLeaks.

JULIAN ASSANGE IS FREE

Julian Assange is free. He left Belmarsh maximum security prison on the morning of 24 June, after having spent 1901 days there. He was granted bail by the High Court in London and was released at Stansted airport during the afternoon, where he boarded a…

— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) June 24, 2024

But how do Australia’s governing politicians – and politicians further abroad – feel about Assange coming ‘home’?

What are politicians saying?

US spokespeople have differed wildly in their takes on Assange’s release, from being staunchly against it to welcoming it with open arms.

My dear brother Julian Assange is free! We struggled, fought, and prayed for many years for this wonderful moment! He also should be pardoned immediately because he committed no crime. He simply exposed the barbaric crimes of the American empire! We must free all of our other… pic.twitter.com/kJwFkvUA9J

— Cornel West (@CornelWest) June 25, 2024

“I am overjoyed,” said American independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr in a tweet today.

Julian Assange struck a plea deal and will go free! I am overjoyed. He's a generational hero.

The bad news is that he had to plea guilty to conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense info. Which means the US security state succeeded in criminalizing journalism and…

— Robert F. Kennedy Jr (@RobertKennedyJr) June 24, 2024

The bad news is that [Assange] had to plead guilty to conspiracy to obtain and disclose national defense info. Which means the US security state has succeeded in criminalizing journalism.

“He should be pardoned immediately because he committed no crime. He simply exposed the barbaric crimes of the American empire,” tweeted American intellectual and philosopher Cornel West earlier.

Julian Assange is free.

Julian exposed the crimes of the powerful. His incarceration was — and always will be — a grotesque miscarriage of justice.

Never stop fighting for the truth. Never lose hope. Never, ever give up.

— Jeremy Corbyn (@jeremycorbyn) June 25, 2024

Former US vice president Mike Pence sees it differently

“Julian Assange endangered the lives of our troops in a time of war and should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Biden administration’s plea deal with Assange is a miscarriage of justice” Pence said on X today.

Julian Assange endangered the lives of our troops in a time of war and should have been prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Biden administration’s plea deal with Assange is a miscarriage of justice and dishonors the service and sacrifice of the men and women of our…

— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) June 25, 2024

“There should be no plea deals to avoid prison for anyone that endangers the security of our military or the national security of the United States,” he added.

Sentiment in Australia

Australia’s MPs have been vocal on their views of the news.

Australian senator David Shoebridge said earlier today on the Greens website that:

Julian Assange should never have been charged with espionage in the first place or had to make this deal.  Assange has spent years in jail for the crime of showing the world the horrors of the US war in Iraq and the complicity of governments like Australia and that is why he has been punished.”

“We should never forget why Julian was targeted by the US for over a decade: for telling an awful, inconvenient truth about war crimes,” added fellow Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson in the same media release.

Barnaby Joyce, Australian MP of the Nationals party, told Sky News Australia this morning, in Australian time, that he welcomed the news, saying that this issue was not about Assange but rather about “extraterritoriality” and about Australian legislation.

“At the very start we have been incredibly careful because this process does look very encouraging but it’s not complete… Nobody wants to put a fly in the ointment. In a 1,500-metre race, you don’t stop and start waving at the crowd,” he said.

“Between the United States of America and Australia, we have bigger fish to fry, we need to clear the decks of this issue… Assange didn’t steal anything,” Joyce added.

Assange’s health is “fragile” with “heart problems”

MP of the Australian Labour Party Julian Hill said that Assange should not be judged for wanting to “get the hell out of there and come home” as “his health is fragile”.

Kennedy Jr added in his own tweet that “Julian had to take this. He has heart problems and he would have died in prison.”

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