Australian Prime Minister demands the release of Julian Assange Belmarsh

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese demanded the immediate release of political prisoner Julian Assange from London Belmarsh Prison.

The 60-year-old prime minister, along with the Australian parliament, led a motion calling on the United States and the United Kingdom to clear Assange of what they say are trumped-up espionage charges, just before a key legal hearing.

The 52-year-old Australian national currently in London’s Belmarsh Prison is due to face the UK High Court next week in his latest appeal against extradition to the US. The charges he faces in the US carry a potential sentence of up to 175 years in prison, a possibility that prompted an 86-42 vote by Australian lawmakers in favor of allowing the Townsville-born journalist to return home.

Albanian prime ministera vocal supporter of the proposal, has stressed the need for a resolution in the Assange case since he takes office in 2022. He has actively engaged with US President Joe Biden on the issue, raising it during a state visit in October, following a bipartisan delegation of Australian lawmakers to Washington lobbying for Assange’s freedom.

The WikiLeaks founder is accused of publishing thousands of classified documents between 2010 and 2011, a move that US authorities say broke the law and put lives at risk. Assange claims that the charges against him are politically motivated, and his legal team warns of the risk of suicide if he is extradited to the US.

In 2021, a British judge halted Assange’s extradition, citing concerns about his mental health. However, the High Court overturned this decision in 2022, granting the US extradition request. This decision, approved by then Home Secretary Priti Patel, prompted Assange’s renewed legal appeal.

Despite ongoing efforts by Assange’s family and supporters calling on the Australian government to intensify its efforts to secure his release, Attorney General Mark Dreyfus reiterated the government’s unwavering stance. Dreyfus recently discussed the matter with his American counterpart Merrick Garland in Washington, confirming Australia’s view that it was time to end the long-running legal saga.

Assange has been imprisoned in the high-security Belmarsh prison since 2019, after a seven-year stay in asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

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