Security seized what he called “protest material” from his family, The Guardian reports.
The father and brother of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange say they have been banned from bringing books about the jailed publisher to the Australian parliament, according to a report by The Guardian on Friday. The security guards apparently believe the copies are “protest material.”
John and Gabriel Shipton, Assange’s father and brother, went to parliament in Canberra on Thursday to ask the government to intervene in the UK-approved extradition of the Australian-born publisher to the United States.
To make their case, they brought in books written by Nils Melzer, the former UN special rapporteur on torture, which addressed the Assange case. The Shiptons intended to distribute copies to MPs and members of the press.
However, Gabriel said that the guards confiscated the books, which they considered to be “protest material.”
“He was saying ‘this is ridiculous. They are books‘” Gabriel told The Guardian, adding that he offered to call high-profile Assange supporter and MP Andrew Wilkie. The guards, he said, allowed the call, but insisted that she could not take the books.
Following the incident, relatives of Assange managed to distribute copies of the book from stock already in Wilkie’s office. They also eventually managed to recover the books confiscated by security.
“It just surprises me. This is the kind of thing that we see in Trump’s America, that we criticize in China. What is our parliament afraid of that we cannot bring a book?Louise Bennet, an activist with the Bring Assange Home campaign, told the outlet.
During their visit to parliament, John and Gabriel Shipton expressed concern that the government, despite earlier promises, has done little to help Assange, who is an Australian citizen. They urged Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to raise the extradition issue.”not negociable” with the US However, they were unable to meet with Albanese, nor with other high-ranking officials.
Assange has been effectively in confinement since 2012, when he applied for asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, trying to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced charges of sexual assault, which have since been dropped. Ecuador revoked Assange’s asylum status in 2019, and British police transferred him from the embassy to Belmarsh maximum-security prison, where he has remained ever since, his health and mental state reportedly deteriorating.
A British court initially refused to hand over Assange to the US, citing fears he would be subjected to inhumane treatment. Subsequently, Washington managed to convince the British judges that the journalist’s rights would be respected. As a result, on June 17, UK Home Secretary Priti Patel approved the WikiLeaks co-founder’s extradition order to the US, a move that is now reportedly being appealed.
Assange has been a target of the US since 2010, when WikiLeaks released a trove of classified documents showing alleged war crimes committed by US forces during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has since been charged with conspiring to hack into Pentagon computers and is charged under the US Espionage Act of 1917 for publishing classified materials. The journalist now faces a sentence of up to 175 years in the United States.
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