A Support Assange & WikiLeaks Coalition Statement by Mr Kep Enderby QC

Thank you for letting me make this statement without being present with you today.

Having entered my 87th year, I am not as mobile these days as I would like to be.

For those of you who may not know my name, I was a Minister in Gough Whitlam’s Government in the 1970’s and his Attorney General in 1975 at the time when the Government was dismissed by John Kerr.

I was a co- founder with others, mainly Ken Buckley, of the NSW for Civil of Liberties in 1961 and have been a member ever since. I like to think I have always been a fighter for human rights and human liberties.

I look back on the Whitlam years as times of great causes; it seems there aren’t many great causes these days, although those of Julian Assange and Bradley Manning are two of them. They deserve all the support they can be given. Even if laws have been broken – and I am not saying they have been, – there are good laws and bad laws, and bad laws should be changed. Public opinion can help do that.

You will remember that the Americans were doing an injustice to David Hicks in Guantanamo Bay until public opinion here in Australia eventually forced the Australian Government to intervene and play a part in having Hicks released into its custody.  I know from discussions with Major Mori, Hick’s American lawyer, that he was able to negotiate a  sort of settlement with the American Court because of that change of attitude by the Howard Government.  Hicks still had to serve a number of years in prison.  He still eventually, however, got out.  I like to think that I may have played perhaps some very small part in helping get public opinion moving on what was always an injustice. I spoke on the Robyn Williams programme and wrote articles and letters highlighting how the Americans were keeping him imprisoned indefinitely.  The Howard Government eventually got the message the public was sending it.

There is something terribly wrong going on in both the Assange and Manning cases, and we are being told very little about it.

Sweden’s sex laws are unrealistically repressive, the most repressive in the world!

That was made clear in the recent ABC interview with Phillip Adams and in the recent book by Oscar Swartz “A History of Sex in Sweden”.

Bradley Manning has been in custody for long periods of solitary confinement on the ground that he might injure himself, despite psychiatric opinion to the contrary and despite public protest that it amounts to pre-trial punishment without being brought to trial. He was arrested more than 2 years ago.

America still uses the ancient archaic old  English medieval grand jury system of  determining whether a criminal trial  should take place to determine whether  a person has committed a serious crime or not,  with all its scope for the manipulated  injustice.  During the hearing the target of grand jury, the person perhaps to be an accused, cannot put on a defence.

In America, in Virginia, a federal grand jury has already commenced investigating WikiLeaks – which means Julian Assange – to determine whether an indictment should be served on him. Eminent commentators are claiming that the evidence is mounting that the WikiLeaks case is part of a much broader campaign by the Obama Administration to crack down on all leakers.

Public opinion can make a great difference in determining that such a prosecution not take place. Such a situation as not very different from what eventually happened in the case of  David Hicks.

Think of the different amount of attention given by the Australian Government to Assange’s  case,  compared to that given to the case of the Australian  woman solicitor in Libya by Bob Carr, our Foreign Minister.

It can’t be that Assange has a bad reputation. He is the recipient of many awards testifying  as to his courage and  excellence as a journalist and about him generally.

The Age refers to him as “one of the most intriguing people in the world” and “internet’s freedom fighter”.

American prisons don’t have the best of reputations these days. Unfortunately , there are understandable reasons for that: think of the  secret prisons  it has scattered all round the world: think of  its use of what it calls  “Rendition”. Think of its use of “Waterboarding” or what we would call “Torture”.   Think of Guantanamo Bay, think of Abu Ghraib. There is evidence that the revelations by WikiLeaks helped bring the atrocities at Abu Ghraib to light.

Ladies and gentlemen.

I have said enough. I give you all the support I can.

Thank you.

 

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