Senator Paul Gavan called for the release of Julian Assange at the Council of Europe today.
Speaking at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on a debate on media freedom, public trust and the people’s right to know, Senator Gavan said:
“Whenever we in the West speak about media freedom, the elephant in the room is the continued imprisonment of Julian Assange.
“Wikileaks editor Julian Assange is facing up to 175 years in prison for publishing truthful information in the public interest.
“Julian Assange is being sought by the United States for publishing US government documents that exposed war crimes and human rights abuses in 2010.
“The politically-motivated charges represent an unprecedented attack on press freedom and the public’s right to know-seeking to criminalize basic journalistic activity.
“The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has called for the British government to end Mr Assange’s deprivation of liberty, respect his physical integrity and freedom of movement, and afford him the right to compensation.
“Amnesty International says ‘were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international law’.
“Julian’s only ‘crime’ was to release horrific facts about US wars such as the video of a horrific attack by a US helicopter on citizens in Iraq, where the US commander exclaims ‘light them up’ as they are slaughtered.
“Whenever we speak of media freedom it is incumbent on all of us, regardless of who we are, to call for Julian Assange’s freedom and I make that call today.”