Home Run 4 Julian Tour – Newcastle

Hello friends

I’d like to thank those involved for coordinating today’s event, and for the invitation to speak.

The last time I spoke in front of a Newcastle audience about Julian was in April 2012 to debate the topic “whether Julian is a fighter for freedom or high-tech terrorist”?

Earlier, in 2010, I made headlines criticising and refuting comments made by now President Joe Biden about Julian following the publication of the diplomatic cables.

Since 2010, I have spoken at rallies and formal events, published opinion pieces, written open letters to parliamentarians (including the cross benchers in 2015), had lengthy confidential conversations with his family members, issued countless freedom of information requests (in recent times with his signed Authority) and stood shoulder to shoulder with Julian in an election.

After that election he wrote to a select few, “I am humbled by your loyalty and steadiness in the face of fire…I’ve been through much harsher battles than this. Nothing worth doing is easy. Great battles throw our characters into relief, our strengths, our weaknesses and our inclinations.  Struggle cuts down opportunists, conformists and those who can’t sacrifice the minute for the hour. We have been bloodied but now we can see clearly who our friends are and appreciate their talents.”

Many don’t realise that during that election he turned much of his attention to assisting Edward Snowden to safety.

Having said all that, I’ve never personally met Julian. Spoken briefly with him, yes, corresponded with him, yes, but never met him.

And over a decade later here I am still, as you are, gathering to support him and trying as best we can to encourage all of us to raise our voices.


Because we know he did what was right. With extraordinary courage he did the best he could against powerful and implacable foes. He was alive to possible personal consequences but his profound belief in truth and justice meant he had no choice but to continue to expose dishonesty, duplicity, inhumanity and outright evil, no matter who the perpetrators.

He and his colleagues were pioneers. They have already taken their rightful place in history, but in times to come they will be feted as heroes.

But by any measure he has personally sacrificed too much for the greater good. And now this incessant punishment and pursuit of him must end.

Julian was 38 years old at the time of his first major publication. He turns 50 in July.

He has suffered a decade of incarceration while the rest of us got on with our work, raising families, caring for sick relatives, enjoying outdoor space and direct sunlight and living our lives surrounded and lifted by those we love.

Which brings me to the actions of consecutive Australian governments over the past decade. To the eternal shame of the Australian people they have been complicit in his persecution.  By their silence. By their abandonment of their citizen. By their refusal to use diplomatic channels to help him and by their refusal even to provide proper diplomatic assistance.

FOI material confirms that they received the February 2016 report of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention which found that Julian had been arbitrarily detained by Sweden and the United Kingdom since his arrest in London on 7 December 2010. The expert panel called on the Swedish and British authorities to end Julian’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.

The governments of Sweden and Britain remained silent, and so did ours.

In 2019, they became aware of the report from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture, Nils Melzer, confirming that Julian “shows all the symptoms of someone exposed to prolonged psychological ill-treatment… He has been deliberately exposed, for a period of several years, to progressively severe forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, the cumulative effects of which can only be described as psychological torture.’

They did nothing.

Evidence emerged of illegal spying on Julian and his Australian lawyers in the Ecuadorian Embassy.

They said nothing.

In May 2019 Julian told DFAT officials that he was concerned about surviving the current process and feared that he would die if taken to the United States. Consular officials noticed then that he appeared to have lost weight.

Still nothing.

An October 2019  DFAT report of court proceedings didn’t mention either his weight loss or of his inability to say his name or date of birth, which was widely reported.

In November 2019 Julian told Consular officials he was suffering from sensory deprivation and that he was dying. He said that his psychological state was so bad that his mind was shutting down.

Once again, nothing.

And at the Senate inquiry in March a question that then Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne had to take on Notice about whether or not our government knew that Julian was on suicide watch at Belmarsh, at a time when they retained his Authority to obtain information in relation to his health and well-being, remains unanswered.

If they were providing proper assistance they must have known, but still they did nothing but continue to fail in their duty to support him.

Each and every one of these failures on the part of our government – and there are many more – constitutes a grievous wrong against Julian personally, which, along with a personal belief in the justice of his cause, is why I have continued to fight for him, to fight for his fundamental human rights.  And I will keep fighting to the best extent that I can.

I hope you will all join in and continue this fight to that same extent. Until Julian walks free.  Our government may have forsaken him but I hope and trust that the people of Australia will not.

Thank you for supporting Julian Assange.

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