Australian lawmakers meet US envoy to seek release of Julian Assange

Australian lawmakers have met with the US ambassador to Canberra, pressing the foreign envoy to seek the release of Julian Assange.

Assange, 52, is an Australian citizen who remains in Belmarsh Prison in London as he fights a US attempt to extradite him to face multiple charges in connection to espionage.

The WikiLeaks founder, who was convicted in Australia for hacking in 1996 before the establishment of his widely-acclaimed whistleblowers’ non-profit organization in 2006,  and in 2010 published a series of damning leaks provided by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, including about 750,000 classified military and diplomatic documents related to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars which exposed the US military’s crimes against the Afghan and Iraqi nations.

In an effort to secure the release of the detained journalist, a cross-party delegation of Australian lawmakers on Tuesday met with US Ambassador to Canberra Caroline Kennedy, urging her to help drop the pending extradition case against Assange and allow him to return to Australia.

Their meeting with Kennedy took place as Canberra prepares for the upcoming visit of US President Joe Biden this month to attend the upcoming Quad leaders’ summit.

The group told the US envoy of the “widespread concern in Australia” about Assange’s continued imprisonment.

The MP delegation said they had created a “Bring Julian Assange Home Parliamentary Group” to launch a collective campaign for his release.

The US embassy in Australia confirmed the meeting but did not share further details.

Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is a vocal critic of Assange’s imprisonment and extradition to the US.

Albanese has repeatedly called for Assange’s release from the UK prison.

If the UK extradites the Australian citizen to the US, he will face 18 counts of court charges, and will likely be handed a hefty prison sentence in a maximum security facility.

In June, the then-UK Home Secretary, Priti Patel, approved the extradition of Assange to the US.

The WikiLeaks’ founder, less than a month later in July, filed an appeal at the UK’s High Court against his extradition to the United States.

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