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In a decision released overnight, the UK judge presiding over Julian’s latest court hearing in London blocked extradition by the USA, citing an extreme risk of suicide and noting the horrendous jail conditions he would face if extradited.

While this is a glimmer of light on the horizon – the darkness prevails for the worlds highest profile political prisoner.

New Zealand can lead the way – again – when his own country will not intervene.

People who fear returning to their own country can ask New Zealand to recognise them as refugees or protected persons. People who lodge a claim for refugee or protection status in New Zealand are known as asylum seekers.

New Zealand has signed an international convention that supports the right of people to seek asylum. New Zealand is a signatory to:

1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees

1984 Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

In the decision, the judge appeared to otherwise accept US lawyers’ arguments; that Julian could get a fair trial, that the case was not about freedom of speech and journalism but something more sinister (if much less well-defined), and that the suffering of Julian’s family in having their loved one forcibly taken to the US was nothing but ordinary.

These are chilling findings and a rationale that must concern every journalist.

The US has relentlessly pursued Julian for a decade, most-recently alleging espionage and hacking crimes, following Wikileaks’ publication in 2010-11 of documents and video revealing US war crimes in Iraq.

The decision blocking extradition will be appealed, US lawyers say. There will be no real resolution for up to three years.

Meanwhile, Julian’s detention continues – pending bail applications.

He’s already served nearly a year in Britain’s highest-security prison, Belmarsh – designed to hold terrorists, serial killers, the UK’s most depraved and irredeemable detainees, for merely breaching bail.

Experts say he’s been subject to and faces further torture, cruel and inhumane conditions, and has had nearly every enshrined fair trial right breached along the way.

The concentrated persecution of Assange continues with Julian at the centre of this fight - but it’s about much more than any one individual.

It’s time to lift the knee off Julian’s neck – off the neck of freedom. New Zealand can do that.

New Zealand has a proud history of leading the way when it comes to human rights, environmental protection, and more-recently with its widely-credited Covid-19 pandemic public health response.

The Rule of Law – the heart of any healthy democracy – remains at risk so-long as Julian remains in prison for his role in exposing the underbelly of Empire.

Julian and his family have connections with New Zealand and New Zealanders – this country is well-positioned to lead the defence and be a masthead for what is likely to be years of litigation.

New Zealand ought to step-up where Australia and the UK has failed.

Julian needs asylum in New Zealand and needs it now.

John Shipton – Julian Assange’s father

Greg Barns – SC Adviser to the Australian Assange Campaign

Craig Tuck – Transnational defence lawyer – NZ adviser to global defence team



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