National Security

Assange call 'may not age well', PM

June 28, 2024

Friday 28 June 2024
Clare Armstrong
Hobart Mercury

 Anthony Albanese's decision to phone Julian Assange as he landed on  Australian soil as a convicted felon and free man "might not age very  well", the Coalition has warned.
 The Prime Minister has been criticised for being the WikiLeaks founder's  first phone call since returning to his home country on Wednesday night, in a  move senior opposition members argue was an overly warm welcome.
 Coalition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham sad he did not think was  "appropriate" for Mr Albanese to pick up the phone to Mr Assange.
 "(On Wednesday) Julian Assange pleaded guilty in a United States court  to charges under the US Espionage Act, and by nightfall, he was welcomed home  by the Australian Prime Minister," Mr Birmingham said.
 "That just sends all of the wrong signals and is irresponsible and  inappropriate of Anthony Albanese to welcome home Julian Assange on the same  day he's pleaded guilty to US charges related to espionage." Fellow  Coalition frontbencher and home affairs spokesman James Paterson said he  believed Mr Albanese's "embrace" of Mr Assange "might not age  very well" once his "contemporary political views are shared with  the public again".
 "I'm not sure all his supporters will embrace him as enthusiastically as  they have been," he said.
 Mr Paterson also criticised the PM for comparing the WikiLeaks founder to  other Australians recently freed from overseas detention like Cheng Lei, Sean  Turnell and Robinson said.
 Mr Assange's wife Stella also backed up the PM, saying her husband's return  to Australia was a "historic moment".
 Ms Assange said her husband's most immediate plans included swimming in the  ocean every day, sleeping in a "real bed," eating "real  food" and enjoying his freedom.
 "He needs time to rest and to recover and he's just rediscovering normal  life, and he needs space to do that," she said.
 Kylie Moore-Gilbert. "These were Australians who were innocent, they  were persecuted for other reasons, by authoritarian power," he told Sky  News.
 Not all opposition members agreed, with Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce and  long-time advocate of Mr Assange saying he was happy about the result.
 "(Mr Assange) didn't create a crime in Australia," he said.  "He wasn't part of a crime in Australia, he wasn't a citizen of the  United States . and we're about to send him to the United States for 175  years in jail." Finance Minister Katy Gallagher said it was not a  "surprise" most of the Coalition were negative about Mr Assange's  freedom.
 "It was a big event to see him land in Australia, and I think generally  outside of the opposition, this has been welcomed as an appropriate move for  something that had gone on for so long," she said.
 Speaking at Parliament House in Canberra on Thursday, Mr Assange's lawyer  Jennifer Robinson said Mr Birmingham needed to get his "priorities  straight".
 "It is entirely appropriate for the Australian Prime Minister to call an  Australian citizen who has been through what Julian has," Ms

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