Australia

The WikiLeaks editor-in-chief wants Scott Morrison to help bring Julian Assange home

Editor-In-Chief of WikiLeaks Kristinn Hrafnsson delivers a speech at the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday. Source: AAP

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson had a blunt message for the Morrison government during his visit to Australia.

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson has urged Australians to question why Prime Minister Scott Morrison has not "stood up for his fellow citizen" Julian Assange.

"Your government did take steps to secure the freedom of [detained Australians] James Ricketson, also of Melinda Taylor, also of Peter Greste," he told the National Press Club in Canberra on Tuesday.

"What has he done to get Julian home?" he asked, imploring reporters present to keep asking the PM this question.

Julian Assange, in a prison van, as he leaves Southwark Crown Court.
Julian Assange, in a prison van, as he leaves Southwark Crown Court.
AAP
Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, is in jail in London after jumping bail and avoiding extradition to Sweden by fleeing to the Ecuadoran embassy, where he lived for seven years.

The 48-year-old Australian now faces extradition to the US on charges of violating the Espionage Act.

Mr Morrison has said Australia has no standing and is unable to intervene in Assange's legal proceedings.

Kristinn Hrafnsson speaks to media outside Southwark Crown Court after Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced.
Kristinn Hrafnsson speaks to media outside Southwark Crown Court after Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was sentenced.
Getty

The Icelandic Mr Hrafnsson is in Australia to raise awareness of Assange's case and to meet politicians. 

He said while travelling the world, many were puzzled that Australia "hadn't done more" for Assange.

"There is question[ing] and disbelief that more has not been done," he said.

"Julian has sacrificed everything so that whistleblowers can shine light on ... serious wrongdoing, so the public can understand truths about our world, and for the principles of press freedom.

"He should not die for these principles. He should not be tortured, as the UN torture expert states is occurring."

Mr Hrafnsson said the outcome from Assange's case will set a precedent for media freedoms.

"Resolving this issue has important international implications, prolonging it creates an enabling environment for deterioration of press freedom standards globally," he said.

Assange's Wikileaks published many highly classified US diplomatic and military documents which exposed US rights abuses including the unreported killing of Iraqi civilians but also put sources named in the documents at risk.

Mr Hrafnsson also detailed the conditions that Assange was being held in.

"It is a brick and wire hell of sensory deprivation," he said.

"It is no place for a journalist or a publisher, and it is no place for an Australian who comes from this bright and warm place.

"After just a few hours of visiting Julian in that place, I found myself very angry and almost stripped of hope.

"I don't know how much longer he can last."

Assange's full extradition hearing is set for February.

With additional reporting from AFP

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