Julian Assange has allegedly ignored and rejected calls from the Australian government amid his ongoing legal battle.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne has revealed that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has rejected the Australian government’s attempts to contact him, allegedly ignoring the government’s calls on 29 occasions.
Mr Assange, 50, is currently in London’s Belmarsh Prison awaiting the outcome of the US government’s appeal to have him extradited to America on charges of Espionage.
If convicted, he will be given the option to return to Australia to serve his sentence.
But the Australian government has been criticised for not supporting the famous whistleblower throughout his decade-long legal battle with US authorities.
In 2019, former Labor leader Bob Carr said Senator Payne “needs to protect herself from the charge that she’s failed in her duty to protect the life of an Australian citizen”.
“Not to do so would leave the Minister exposed to withering criticism that they did not take all appropriate action that might have made a difference, mainly before the British court makes a decision,” he said.
But Senator Payne defended her handling of the situation when confronted in Senate Estimates on Thursday, insisting she had done everything she could to support Mr Assange.
“I have consistently sought to assure myself of Mr. Assange’s position in terms of the legal processes to which he is subject,” Senator Payne said.
“I have consistently encouraged my consular staff to engage on his case and to seek to provide him with consular assistance or assistance with medical support.
“This has been met with rejection or no answer (from Mr Assange) for 29 occasions so far.”
Mr Assange will face his second day of trial in Britain’s High Court on Thursday, as the US attempts to overturn the court’s decision not to grant his extradition on 17 counts of Espionage.
In January, the judge blocked the US government’s original extradition request due to Mr Assange‘s mental health and risk of suicide in a US Prison.
Supporters of Julian Assange gathered outside the court to defend the whistleblower on Wednesday, holding up signs saying “no extradition”, and “free Julian Assange”.
Mr Assange appeared via video link to the proceedings, with his partner later confirming he was “thin and very unwell”.
If his extradition is approved, Mr Assange’s convictions under US law will carry a maximum sentence of 175 years imprisonment.